Are you a “hypenated-Christian”?

I might be a hypenated Christian. I serve under the Baptists today although I was trained and ordained in the Lutheran church. I originally came from the evangelical and pentecostal churches. Some might call me a Bapti-costal or a crypto-Lutheran, Bapto-Lutheran or Luther-costal, or whatever hyphenated Christian.

I meet many people who are no longer part of the church. Some are lapsed Catholics, and some are also lapsed evangelicals. Some are searching or are visiting different churches and do not consider themselves belonging to any single denomination even though they may have been baptized in that denomination.

Today’s church is in flux. Amongst evangelicals, many have moved from one denomination to another and have never given a thought to staying with one denomination forever. I have done my share of church hopping in my young adult years, especially during college years. Many of my friends were also in the same boat. It is much like how many move from one job to another these days. Church, life and work are not static but always changing.

Organized religion is feeling less organized these days and will continue in this direction for the foreseeable future. For whatever reasons, some people change churches. It might be theological, or spiritual, or because they had friends or family who attended a congregation. Some return to the church of their childhood where they attended Sunday school, youth group or confirmation.

My sense is that people are looking for real spirituality. They want something that is genuine. Denomination is not a big concern. They want something spiritual and yet has meaning for their lives.

Has this been the case for yourself? Do you also consider yourself a hyphenated-Christian?

Jesus’ resurrection and calling sinners to repentance

The early Christians had known that Christ’s death and resurrection was meant to call sinners to repentance. Below is a quote from Epistle of Barnabas, ch 5, written by one of the early Apostolic fathers of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries (source here, dating here).

The prophets, having obtained grace from Him, prophesied concerning Him. And He (since it behoved Him to appear in flesh), that He might abolish death, and reveal the resurrection from the dead, endured [what and as He did], in order that He might fulfill the promise made unto the fathers, and by preparing a new people for Himself, might show, while He dwelt on earth, that He, when He has raised mankind, will also judge them. Moreover, teaching Israel, and doing so great miracles and signs, He preached [the truth] to him, and greatly loved him. But when He chose His own apostles who where to preach His Gospel, [He did so from among those] who were sinners above all sin, that He might show He came “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Remember, Christ’s resurrection, and even our repentance, is a work of God and never our work.

Why do we say, “He is Risen”?

Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

On Easter Sunday, we in Christ, will say together “He is risen!” Why do we do this each Easter morning?

The witnesses in scripture told the disciples that Jesus is risen from the dead.

Matthew 28:6-7 says, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Mark 16:6 says, “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

Luke 24:6 says, “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.”

In Scripture, Jesus predicted His own resurrection. His followers did not understand what He was saying to them, but after He returned, they understood.

Matthew 16:21 says, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Mark 8:13 says, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”

Good Friday – when they crucified our Lord – INRI

If you ever watched a Jesus movie with his crucifixion and noticed a sign above his head says INRI (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum). This means Jesus Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Before his execution, Jesus was flogged, which was a customary practice intended to weaken a victim before crucifixion. Crucifixion was an especially painful method of execution and was perfected by the Romans as such. It was reserved for the worst criminals, and generally Roman citizens, women, and soldiers were exempt in most cases.

During his flogging, the soldiers tormented Jesus, crowning Him with thorns and ridicule. Jesus was forced to carry his own cross. Yes, his own cross! It was good that Cyrene help Jesus to carry it the rest of the way to Calvary. He was nailed between two thieves because his enemies felt he deserved a thief’s death.

In churches that observe Good Friday, the altar is stripped bare. Holy Communion is not taken. A fast may be done. It is a somber day.

With Catholics, there may also be a veneration of the cross to recognize the death of our Lord.

May the cross help all of us remember what Christ went through in his death. It was for us, for the atonement of our sins. May we be grateful for his death, but we will also arise with joy in his future resurrection.

Psalm 23 The Lord is like a good shepherd

I hope this message can be a blessing and bring comfort to some people.

Coronavirus ignition to a spiritual awakening

What I’m about to say in this blogpost will sound very spiritual so you’ve got to hold on. I’ve been blogging lots on our current situation with this Coronavirus pandemic. It has affected every single person. As long as you haven’t been living under a rock, I’m sure it’s affected you in some way too. This virus has brought us to a new level, at least within my lifetime and possibly yours too.  I don’t remember having ever experienced such a devastating event.

[ In China, the real number of deaths due to Covid-19 is far higher than what’s been reported. People in China no longer trust the Communist CCP government to tell the truth. They have blatantly lied and covered up the real numbers of deaths to the people and the world. Countries suffering from this epidemic today are left to deal with China’s dishonesty. People can no longer trust their governments, nor their health care systems, nor their savings, economies, nor markets to save them. People are now questioning everything about society’s protectorates. They have now been awakened to seek for truth outside established sources. ]

The spiritual landscape today

Spiritually-speaking, there will be a spiritual awakening in the midst of the Coronavirus. It will not be the cause of it but a sort of triggering point. This event will cause many people to seek deeper to look for answers in their lives. I have had this feeling inside me during the last week that there will be a sort of renewal in faith, spirituality, and religion in general.

If you’ve noticed that in the last ten years, the larger part of western society has turned away from established forms of religion (like the church). In doing so people and families have lost their religious traditions including their spiritual roots. We have become a very secular society, which irreligious society and it has removed and numbed our sense of spirituality.

In the east, namely China, the CCP has tried to control the Christian church. This will no longer be possible. God the Holy Spirit will start a sovereign move to breakout of its shell. Chinese people in the mainland have lost faith in the integrity of their once beloved CCP government. They will be seeking outside the regime to a higher power for salvation. The Christian church in China will begin to rise to become that Christian nation it is destined to become.

The spiritual landscape has been very dry, such that even a spark can ignite a fire. To use this analogy, it will be like a fire that cleanses and renews us–almost like a purification. To use another analogy like a dry parched land, rains will be coming down upon us.

I don’t believe this is merely coincidence. An opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal also spoke about such a spiritual revival: “A Coronavirus Great Awakening?” (article here). The author’s point was that sometimes the most important ingredient for spiritual renewal is a cataclysmic event. Another article I came across was from First Things. Pope Francis is calling for repentance (article here).

A coming awakening of spirituality

The heart of God has been hurting and saddened in our neglect of him. Can God feel hurt? I think so. Like the prodigal son who has run away from home, his parents are reaching out him to calling him to return home. God will be calling us to turn our hearts back home–even during this Coronovirus pandemic.

The Holy Spirit will begin moving to renew societies and cultures worldwide.  What is coming in the future will be a spiritual revival of hearts, minds and lives like we have never seen before. From God’s perspective, God can take a bad situation and turn it into something good.

Those whose hearts had been cold toward God will return to him again. People you might have never expected will begin to seek after spiritual things. There will be a big return back to God. The Holy Spirit will be calling people into repentance and return to God, to come to Jesus the Savior, and experience peace.

This pandemic has shown us that control over the events of the world does not rest in our own human power. It is not our call and it never was. We might be rich, powerful, strong, healthy, smart and intelligent, funny, beautiful, but ultimately we are all the same like everyone else who are not these things. Human power will not be enough to overcome the evils that have impacted our world today.  As peoples and nations, it will be a humbling thing to come to this realization. It is what God wants us to realize.

A spiritual revival or renewal is on the horizon. It will bring a spiritual peace to entire societies and cultures around the world. At last, people will be free to live for God again, so get ready.

Get ready for God’s sovereign move

1/ There is still hope. This hope will not be found in ourselves. This hope rests solely in the love of God.  The peace of God will be freely given.  The gifts of God will be poured out into your life and cover all your disgraces, all your poverty, your losses, and yes, even the sins you have been keeping disclosed.  That is the amazing love of God that Jesus came to give us. 

2/ Another thing we can do is to pray to God and ask Him for forgiveness and be reconciled with God again.  Christ the Lord will come into your life and give you His peace.  The Holy Spirit will live with your family and give your spouse and children a peace that cannot be found anywhere else. Jesus is about love, peace and joy. So pray.

3/ This is just the start, but God is moving in this world to change, renew, and align our hearts and minds to that of God’s heart and mind (God’s will) . A new wave of revival will cause our cold and hardened hearts to return to God. This will be a sovereign move of God’s Spirit to soften our hearts, renew us and ultimately, renew society and culture. Then we will have hope of liberty and freedom to live in unity with God.

4/ Each of us, each of our families, each of our places of worship, will do well by preparing our hearts for this future coming. Be open to what God is about to do in our lives. Jesus Christ may be looking at you and desiring to have your heart and spirit re-awakened and re-aligned to be in tune with God’s Holy Spirit. If so, get ready. It’s starting soon.

Marriage after Corona/Covid-19

Hi, I’m Kevin. I want to share a part of my life’s story in the blogosphere. It’ll be a longer read than usual.  I grew up seeing my parents suffer together.  When I was a young kid in Vancouver, my father raised the family (my Mom, brother and me) by working two or three part-time jobs.  Life was tough in my younger years but I didn’t know the difference. 

Later on we moved to the prairies of Saskatchewan. We worked hard together.  I grew up seeing my parents live a family-first model of marriage.  In this model, marriage is not so much about romance but it’s also about the kids, money, raising a family together.

When I grew up, became a young adult, went off to college in Ottawa and Virginia. I was taught to believe that the soul mate model of marriage was the only true way to live.  Life was about seeking happiness, and marriage was supposed to bring happiness.  From a secular view, marriage was actually seen as optional.  Marriage and children were a hindrance. These things can get in the way of achieving happiness and a comfortable lifestyle.  This is today’s current view of marriage. This will, however, change.

After college, I moved to Toronto.  I believed that life was all about achieving success in one’s career.  It was about finding the love of your life; one could then live happily ever after.  I bought into society’s ideals hook-line-and-sinker.  Love and success were supposed to make a person happy.  If one doesn’t find success and happiness, you would then be settling for second place; and second place was a loser’s place.

In a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal, author W. Bradford Wilcox said this about the soul mate model of marriage:

“For those who are already married, the stresses and strains of marriage and family life in the time of Covid-19 will send thousands of couples to divorce court. Marital failure will be especially common for husbands and wives under the sway of what I call the “soul mate model” of marriage. The soul mate model—trumpeted in books like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” not to mention countless songs and rom-coms—is the idea that marriage is primarily about an intense emotional and romantic connection between two people and should last only so long as that connection remains happy and fulfilling for both parties. This self-centered model gained in popularity for many Americans starting in the 1970s, the ‘Me Decade.’”

Later in my young adulthood life I realized this model to life and marriage was wrong-headed. I could see it taking me no where. I then realized that this was actually a mass deception created and perpetuated by the mainstream media and by Hollywood. A Me-First mentality.  I looked back and began to consider history and traditions, and why life seemed better in the golden olden days. Call it nostalgia if you wish.

I looked at myself and didn’t like what I had become.  Self-centered.  Selfish.  Prideful.  I knew that there had to be more to life than just seeking happiness for myself. I confessed and repented of my ways. I made a switch, slowly but surely.

Wilcox said of the family-first model of marriage: “in times of trial and tribulation, most people—and most spouses—don’t become more self-centered, they become more other-centered, more cognizant of how much they need their family members to navigate difficult and dark times.  He believes that in a post-Covid-19 society, the family-first model of marriage will gain ground against the soul mate model.  I agree with this.

Since the great depression of the 1930s, we haven’t had such a big downturn in job losses. During this Covid-19, experts and economists are saying that we will definitely have a recession, or even, a depression.  I have never seen communities as a whole pull together. Perhaps 9/11 in New York City was one instance but on a national and worldwide scale, I don’t think this generation has ever seen anything within our lifetime as during this pandemic. There may very well be or a soon-to-be economic collapse, but of course, I’m hoping there won’t be one. It’s safe to say that everyone is coming to realize the dangers and calamity the virus will inevitably cause. 

I believe that in the end, people will pull together as communities, for the good of the community.  Families will also pull together and stick together.  Why?  In togetherness, one becomes stronger than when one is alone. Friendships will be bound together based on teamwork, team spirit and camaraderie.

An opposing direction that a post-Covid-19 society might go is the prepper-survival mentality.  Every man (and woman) for himself.  Screw the rest.  Prepare your home as a fortress to hide out.  Fill it with food, bullets, and survival items in order to stave off collapse for months or even years.  And bear fire arms. Have your ammo ready.  Lock and load to protect your fortress.  If the situation ever gets so bad, it could come to this low level post-Armageddon mentality.  Perhaps I’m too optimistic but I don’t think it will come to this level.

In togetherness, one becomes stronger than when one is alone. Friendships will be bound together based on teamwork, team spirit and camaraderie.

Families will come together because as human beings, we know there is something more to life than just living life in order to seek happiness.  There is also happiness in seeking to live life together.  This latter approach to life is bigger than life itself.  It puts the pressure off of yourself, the individual.  The pressure to succeed now lays in the bigger group, the community, and the family.

“There is also happiness in seeking to live life together.  This latter approach to life is bigger than life itself.”

My parents taught me something about sticking it out for the long haul.  Suffering for a short time will pay off in the longer term.  After I took on this new view of life, things began to change.  God blessed me with a life partner (rather than a soul mate).  We began a family together.  We now have a daughter in middle school.  Life hasn’t always been easy but life has been good together.  So far, so good.

This has been a part of my life experience and I wish to share this with the community I’m a part of in the blogosphere. I hope it encourages a few people out there who might read this.

Peace overcomes pain

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.

Psalm 22:1-2, Bible

This psalm from chapter 22 is often read on Good Friday. Christians have associated this text to the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. Jesus quoted this in part while on hung on the cross to die.

The Book of Psalm contains many complaints. For this reason, it wasn’t one of my favorite books of the bible. There are many joyful psalms of praise and celebration which I prefer; and then there are many sad and depressing psalms of lament, which I dislike (especially if I’m not in the mood to read it).

The good bishop, N.T. Wright, recently wrote in Time:

“Yes, these poems often come out into the light by the end, with a fresh sense of God’s presence and hope, not to explain the trouble but to provide reassurance within it.”…. “It is no part of the Christian vocation, then, to be able to explain what’s happening and why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell.”

https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/

When the psalmist could not see any relief in sight, all he had was pain. He doubted God. If you haven’t read from the bible of the numerous chapters of people feeling sorry for themselves, open up to the book of Psalm. It’s full of it. This is why so many people can relate to the psalms. These writers complained about their pain and they accused God of forgetting and for not caring. Job’s friends came up with invalid reasons for his extreme sufferings (read about it in depressing book of Job). They blamed his sufferings on his past sins. How inconsiderate. If I had friends like Job, I’d tell them where to go.

If one were to contract COVID-19 (or any other sickness for that matter), we might want a spiritual explanation as to why we contracted the disease. There is no good “spiritual” reason why a person contracted COVID-19 or any other disease. No, I’m not talking about a clinical reason, but rather, a spiritual reason. Spiritualizing it doesn’t improve a person’s emotional agony or discomfort. It doesn’t do a person any good.

God wants us to put ourselves in a proper place and be subordinate to the will of God. That is to humble ourselves. It gives room for God to come into our lives and give us peace–a true peace that is beyond all human understanding.

This is the same realization Jesus might have had on the cross as he suffered in pain. He experienced the love and peace of the Holy Spirit while he writhed in pain at Golgotha. I know. Sounds wierd and ironic that peace and pain can go together. Peace and pain can co-exist. This is the irony that so many people find so difficult to understand.

As Christians, and as non-religious folks, we all want answers to our problems, and we want them now. Our natural human desire is to alleviate our pain. We hate pain. We want it to disappear.

One direction people take is to doubt the existence of God. When we witness or hear of so much pain in the world, we begin to rationalize: “How can there be such a cruel God? Who would allow human beings to be put into cruel and painful circumstances? Such an inhumane or merciless God simply cannot exist!”

Another way our mind can wander is to wrongly attribute cruelty toward a loving and merciful God. We begin to doubt God’s goodness, and that God is truly good. We lose faith in a good God. We walk away from the Church. Emotionally and intellectually, it easier to doubt that a loving God can allow injustice and suffering. As a result, we push God out of our lives.

Another way our minds will rationalize a seemingly irrantional God of peace and pain is to find reasons why we might be deserving of pain and suffering.

Examples:

“I have done something very bad and sinful, so now it’s payback time… God is getting even with me now and that’s why I’m suffering.”

“I hurt that rotten person years ago, and that’s why God took away my son or daughter, my father or mother.”

“I’m such an evil person. That’s why God gave me cancer,” or “That’s why God sent the Coronavirus… to wipe out this evil world of evil doers.”

When we demand answers for which there isn’t an answer it’s a vain attempt to spiritualize our pain away. Our human capacity to accept uncertainty is limited, so we prefer to limit God by putting Him in a box. We relentlessly search for a rational answer. We set limits on ourselves as humans beings, and we end up pushing God further away.

Why do we do this? We want to put God where it makes more sense to us. We want to set God in his place. We prefer to think, “that if there truly is a God, then this is who God is. This is what God is like; and so this is how I can be stronger.”

We prefer to own our own problems. By setting God in a place where we want him to be, we think we can garner more control over our lives. We come up with our own solutions to our own problems.

Our goal for a human solution is empty and vain. It is not where God is found. God likely has a totally different solution. God’s knowledge is infinite and All-knowing. If we really knew the mind of God, what God already knows might actually surprise us.

It is not our job to rationalize God. God does not want to be included in our human equation. In God’s mind, there is no such thing as a human equation. Our job is not to put God where we think He ought to be. That is to falsify God and take God’s name in vain.

Our place is to be subordinate to God and become willing vessels of God’s will. When God has His rightful place in your life, it is then that you will have peace. When God feels welcomed in your life, it is then that you will have joy and hope.

What God wants more than anything is to wrap his big arms around you and tell you that He loves you. He desires to be with you. His presence surrounds you and protects you like a mother hen who guards her chicks. The love and mercy of God is greater than what we can imagine.

God wants to come to you in the midst of all your suffering… even in the midst of your chaos, your pain, sadness, sickness and disease. The capacity of the love of God is much greater than our human capacity. God’s love is deeper, wider, and higher.

Our own human capacity to love is extremely limited. We do not have the patience, the courage or the kindness to love like God can. That’s why we prefer to push aside a God who allows suffering. But God is much bigger than our vain human imaginations.

If God the Father absorbed all the pain that Jesus suffered on the cross, God can certainly live in us with all our pain and suffering. How so? God is God, and we are not. God can come into your life, filled with pain and chaos, filled with burdens that you cannot bear, and then fill it with God’s own peace.

Millions of Christians in the world today have experienced the overwhelming love and mercy of God. Christians in the world today currently suffering are experiencing God in the midst of their sickness and pain, in their wars and violence, in their persecutions and personal troubles. Millions more will enter into the Compassionate heart of this Triune God. He is calling out to each individual person, and that person might be you today.

I admit, the idea of a suffering God is not popular in Christian circles. The suffering Christ was once nailed to the cross. The crucified Christ was nailed on Friday. Well, we call it Friday but we really don’t know what day it was. We also like to call it “Good Friday”. It was not a good thing that happened but we call it “good” anyway. Behind this, there is an extremely important truth. It is a “Good Friday” because we already know there is hope coming on the third day. Jesus would soon rise again from the dead. We know the ultimate outcome is renewed life–a resurrection from the dead.

When we invite guests to come over to our house, we want to make sure we have it cleaned up, spotless and all tidy. We do this not for their sake, but we do it for our own sake. We take pride in our own perfection.

In God’s economy, God is not like this at all. God’s way is like this. As we welcome God to enter our lives and live within our pain and suffering, the Holy Spirit will fill us with peace, joy and hope. This is why we can invite God to come into our hearts and homes while we are still a mess. Yes, from our human point-of-view, this sounds unconventional and very different to what we think ought to be normal.

The good news of Christ is not that God came to wave a magic wand to banish away all our pain and problems. The good news of Christ Jesus is that God vanished from the empty tomb and resurrected in bodily form on the Third Day, and rose to live again in the flesh. He conquered and defeated death. If death could not hold Jesus in the tomb, then death will not be able to hold us down in the grave. This is why we celebrate Easter this Sunday.

Death is one of the biggest fears of humankind. If God in Christ Jesus defeated death on Easter, we also have hope of eternal life with God forever. May all praise, honor and glory be to God our Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

A broken and imperfect people

Do people view Christians as imperfect people? Yes, we Christians are imperfect; and we don’t need to hide this fact. And I’m one of these imperfect ones. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am imperfect. I have known some who put on a facade–like a make-over to look like that “perfect and righteous Christian.” Nothing can be more phoney. Pastors, elders, deacons can be pressured to put on a facade because of fear of not looking like that good example. This can be true of any church.

Our younger generation are totally not into this “old school” hypocrisy of “fake it till you make it.” They want people to be real, genuine and true to themselves. They want this of themselves. I don’t mean that we show off our sin like a peacock. By this I really mean that we ought to trust in God’s forgiveness with boldness and courage. Without a true understanding and experience of God’s grace, the freedom to do this is impossible.

This generation has been raised in a non-religious society but it realizes its need for God and spirituality. I see the rise of two cultures clashing. One culture realizes the imperfections we all have and rebel against the injustices of our society’s leaders, including our political, business and religious leaders. It wants to fix this broken culture.

The other culture realizes our own need for a savior because we have seen our hopelessness of trying to fix ourselves and our society. This savior has been revealed to us, and He is the one who saves us from having to rebel and fight (not that we don’t strive to improve society). This second culture is the Christian or Jesus culture.

I have been a broken person and see my own imperfections more than anyone else. I just try not to show it or make it too obvious. If this is how you feel too, then you’ll understand it is why we need a God who loves us despite our imperfections. We don’t need a god to make us feel better about ourselves. We need a savior who loves us despite our brokenness. This is what grace is. This is the most liberating way to live.

This understanding of righteousness and setting God’s righteousness above our own human righteous is how Christ built the Church from nothing. A personal spiritual revelation of God’s grace is the only thing that can revive the Church today. I see a new generation of Christians rising up today that is full of faith and a new found sense of spirituality. This gives me new hope in the Church.

Everything about me has been and is going back to God’s grace. It’s amazing. Yes, it’s God’s grace that’s amazing. It truly is. When I listen to the song: Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hillsong, I’m amazed by the words of the lyrics. It goes like:

All these pieces
Broken and shattered
In mercy gathered
Mended and whole
Empty handed
But not forsaken
I've been set free
I've been set free ….
You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set Your treasure
In jars of clay
So take this heart Lord
I'll be your vessel
The world to see
Your life in me….

Then the amazing part goes like this:

Oh I can see You now
Oh I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying Yourself down
Raising up the broken to life

After I realize God’s love despite my broken and shattered life,
Despite my need to be mended and be made whole,
Despite my failures, weaknesses,
God still wants to make me into a vessel of his to be used by him.

This is why I can see God more clearly today. I have looked into God’s loving eyes who gave himself up for my broken life. Now I’m set free. Set free from having to hide my imperfections. Set free from human performance. This is true freedom.

Yes, Snoopy needs God’s grace too.

Intro – Great Nations: When there is Sibling Rivalry

[ See related posts on Great Nations: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3]

This is the first of the posts on Great Nations. This first post is an introduction on our common spiritual foundation. Part 1 is my reflection on China’s implosion into Communism (Part 1), followed by nations rising from the East (Part 2), and our need for spiritual foundations (Part 3).

When siblings become rivals, they provoke, prod and poke each other. At their worst, they might sometimes hurt one another. In life, when two siblings fight, they can be so hard on one another they end-up beating each up black and blue. At other times, ironically, when an outsider intrudes upon one of the siblings, the other sibling comes to the other’s rescue. I can remember, I have had both my share of fights and rescues.

Brothers will be brothers. They can love and hate one another. When they are deep into rivalry, they will always remain as brothers. In the bible, there were sets of two rival siblings, Cain and Abel (Genesis 2), and Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25). These were rivals who ended hurting one another—one brother murdered the other sibling.

In Genesis, there was a record of two people whom God blessed. One was a woman, Hagar, and the other, Sarah. The two were not sisters but rival wives of Abraham. The two women both produced offspring that populated the earth. One is thought to have become an Arab people. The other have become the Jewish nation. These two ethnic nations still remain great peoples.

People descended from Hagar:

“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” (Genesis 21:17-18)

People descended from Sarah:

“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:15-18)

In the biblical past, the two nations of Hagar and Abraham have not been at peace with one another. They have been sibling rivals for centuries. They have cut each other down with hurtful words and war. Islamic nations can achieve prosperity if they maintain peace within their own sibling nations like Israel.

I pray that these two great peoples do eventually find peace with one another so that God’s blessings may be poured out upon their peoples and lands. May God bless these two Abrahamic traditions and grant them peace and prosperity.

North Korea’s Kim and South Korea’s Moon

In the brotherhood of nations, one nation might fight another nation with weapons that kill—brother against brother, sister against sister. Sometimes, they take jabs at one another using words. Sometimes they taunt one another using rockets, grenades and missiles. Arguments and battles of oratory brilliance can spark more than just lightening rods. They can spark rockets and explosives that can kill thousands, if not millions of innocent people.

Our hope is, of course, that their disputes do not end up with fatalities. Inevitably, there will be some bloodshed. Hopefully, however, there will eventually be healing and friendship. As nations continue to struggle with one another around the world, I hope that we as Christians might pray for peace around the world. A few examples in modern times are: North Korea and South Korea; East Germany and West Germany. There are other examples on every continent.

As Christians, we hope that we do not pound the other nation into submission. We pray that rival nations may resolve their disputes. We pray that sibling nations might put away their arms and offer gifts and palm branches of peace.

Throughout history, nations do rise up from ashes to become great nations. Nations will also fall from grace and end up becoming crippled, grow old and die. Nations ought never take for granted their golden days of prosperity. They need to count their blessings and remember to thank God for the prosperity that have been bestowed upon them in their history.

The United States, the U.K., Canada, and other western nations have become great nations. However, there is always the possibility that they might fall from grace, become impoverished, and worse, die. Think of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Where are they today? They have become merely records written in human history.

There is a need for a foundation of nations. Rivalry and fighting is not it.