Part 1 – Great Nations: When there is Sibling Rivalry

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.

It’s hard to be humble

It is easy to be humble to those who are better than us, but it is not so easy to be humble to those who are less than us. Benjamin Franklin once said: “To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals is courtesy, and to inferiors is nobleness.” 

We’ve all heard the proverb, “Pride comes before a fall.”   When we boast about ourselves, we do feel better about ourselves, but only for a moment. Then the crash comes, it brings us back down to reality. Sometimes to where we actually should be. Ouch!

Then, there are times when I just take a lower position. There’s a feeling of safety. I didn’t have to elevate myself. Result was I didn’t have to protect that lofty position. Nothing or not much to fear.  There’s less of a distance to fall you know. 

It’s not always easy to be humble, especially when we know we are very good at what we do. Pride can slowly creep up on us. Trip us up. I know I constantly need God’s grace. Christ’s example of humility is good constant reminder for me.

When we boast beyond measure, there’s a fear of being exposed, and humiliated after being found out.  We might think to ourselves: “Oh, if they find out really who I am, they won’t respect me anymore.”  So we put up a false front and make others think we are really good.  Why do we do this?  Fear. 

Jesus Washing the Feet of the Disciples, by an anonymous Sicilian painter, early 1700s

Even when we do fail, God gives us chances to learn and re-learn.  If we fail, we can start again. Whenever I meet a truly humble person, I’ve often thought to myself, “I really like this person… He/she is so unpretentious.” I feel safe just being who I am; not wanting to pretend myself.

I’m reminded by 1 John 4:18 that says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (NIV).  I didn’t really understand this before, then realized another interpretation of this phrase. If we truly believed that others would love and accept us no matter what, no matter how weak or how poor we think we are, there would be no reason for us to fear. 

This is why Paul said to the Philippians:

Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” (Phil.2:2-5).

Jesus exemplified this to us through his life example.  This is something we could remember to continually confess and repent of.  It’s something that can easily sneak up on us.  As pride grows bigger…humility gets smaller.

In 1 Peter 5:5-7, Peter says:

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”   Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Painting: This humbling gesture by Jesus was done by an anonymous painter. Very moving. Jesus’ disciples are in shock and disarray because their teacher/master is going beneath himself to serve his disciples. It really shows Jesus’ humility teaching by example.

Read a previous post on: Humility vs selfish ambition

What destroyed the dinosaurs?

https://foodgressing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/pacific-science-center-seattle-kids.jpg

Our family went to the science center last month. We saw dinosaurs and stuff. She asked me when they existed. Some say millions of years ago. How many millions? Not sure.

Some also say thousands of years ago (recent findings of dinosaurs with skin, red blood cells and soft tissues still intact–not fossilized) (one site here). This makes the much-more-recent Great Flood theory of destruction of dinosaurs very possible.

Given the possibilities of science and biotechnology we have, or will have in the very near future, this also makes another scary scenario possible–a real-life Jurassic Park.

After this archaeological finding by Dr. Mary Schweitzer (link here), many evolutionists are steering away from a pure Darwinistic evolution. Creationism may suddenly become a possibility in the eyes of the scientific community. However, there also is a violent cover-up by the hardcore pro-Darwinistic evolutionist scientific community.

11 Alternate Dinosaur Extinction Theories - CollegeHumor Post

One theory says they were destroyed by either a giant asteroid that landed in the Gulf of Mexico. Another theory, they were wiped out by the Great Flood. No theory makes complete sense to me yet. I don’t think we have an absolute answer at this point. Can both theories co-exist and be true? Could there have been multiple points in time when dinosaurs were endangered and destroyed? If the earth is millions or billions of years old, then why could the earth not have experienced multiple points of destruction? There might be many possibilities.

Either way, the destruction of dinosaurs was good for us as humans. We humans are no longer prey for dino-food. I just hope to God that we don’t resurrect a real-life Jurassic Park scenario, which would endanger the future safety of human beings on earth.

Another global destruction possible?

Will there be another great flood? According to Genesis 8:21-22, God said to Noah:

The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.

At this point in our human history, the ones who can destroy the earth is a wreckless humanity. Let’s just hope and pray no one provokes a nuclear war or disasters.

Prayer for Christians in Sri Lanka

Lord, for those who suffer persecution, we ask you for comfort.
For martyrs who suffered for the sake of your son Jesus,
comfort their souls in heaven and console their families who survived.
Lord, for those who anguish over senseless and violent tragedies,
we ask you to be the pillar they lean on when life does not make sense.
Father, care for them, comfort their spirit with your Holy Spirit.
Amen.

This Easter Sunday, April 22, 2019, was a sad day for many in Sri Lanka. [ edited: More than 359+ people ] were killed along with 500 injured, including 35+ tourists from Britain, the U.S., Denmark, China, Japan, India, Portugal, Turkey, the Netherlands.

This occurred during Easter Sunday worship at three churches filled with worshipers at: St. Anthony’s Shrine (Colombo); St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church (Negombo); and Zion Church (Protestant) (Batticaloa).

There were 8-9 explosions detonated by suicide bombers. The other bombings happened at three five-star hotels, which tend to be favored by foreigners.

The group responsible for the attack is unknown but suspects have been arrested. Investigations are pointing to a radical Islamist Jihadist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

In honor of Sri Lanka Christians killed for their faith. The Martyr Saints in China: Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions (1815 AD).

Comment on art: The martyrs who were killed for their faith expectantly look up to heaven while the hosts of heaven receive them. Background information at: vatican.va

Prayer of Easter, Resurrection Day

Hallelujah! The Lord is Risen! Hallelujah!

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us this day.
May this meal be blessed as we gather to celebrate together.
May your love be shared amongst us as we enjoy the gift of fellowship.
May we remember to offer grace and forgiveness that you have freely given us,
And may we always give thanks for your sacrificial love.
Amen.

The Resurrection of Christ, by Anthony van Dyck, 1631. Flemish. Movement: Baroque.

Comment on art: Wonderful…simply wonderful! This would be one of my favorite resurrection art pieces. It is filled with action and passion. The emotions of shock and glory of Jesus resurrecting is depicted in this extremely moving piece.

What is Easter?

Resurrection by Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), tempera on wood, 70×92 cm, detail depicting Christ, 1457-1459

Easter comes two days after Good Friday. It is the fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah who was to come. We know the Messiah or Savior as Jesus who resurrected from the dead.

Christians commemorate Easter as the most holy day in Christianity. It is the reason believers in Christ Jesus believe in new and eternal life. Jesus rose again from the dead and defeated death; thereby, giving us the promise of eternal life that we will also rise again.

Holy week (Passion week) begins after Palm or Passion Sunday. Known as Pashchal (Holy/Easter) Triduum to Catholics, this includes the evening of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (last three days of Lent). Devoted Catholics have traditionally observed these days with prayer, fasting and abstinence.

Everything builds up to the grand finale. Easter Sunday morning is like the grand finale when Jesus is resurrected from the dead. As Christians, Jesus resurrection is the reason we sing “Hallelujah” and give the Lord praise and glory.

Comment on art: This piece by Montegna is full of life. The Roman gaurds are in shock. Their expressions are priceless. Jesus stands one foot on the tomb pointing to the sky as if to say, “I have conquered death… and up is where I’m going.”