Bunny-chows and Bibles

In the past week, I was listening to the address by Ravi Zacharias to the Passion 2017 conference, and I can appreciate how when compared to the lucidity with Ravi speaks, my brain seems like day old banana pudding.

 

Ravi is a powerful apologist for Christianity and comes from the Kerala state of India, although he is now an American citizen.

 

Ravi spoke briefly about how another famous Christian made landfall in Kerala and brought the gospel to the people of India. No less than Thomas – the famous doubting Thomas – went to India as a missionary an AD 52, just a few years after Christ ascended and sent out his church. He was literally obedient to the great commission and wound up in a place far from his comfort zone.

 

Thomas, also called Didymus (the twin), seems to have been a Galilean but travelled to Syria, Persia (modern Iran) and ended up in India.

Mayalapore, India

When Jesus speaks to his disciples about going to wake Lazarus from sleep (meaning death), Thomas is recorded as saying:

 

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11, NIV)

 

Some scholars see this as evidence of Thomas’ ability to doubt or see the most unfortunate scenario, since Jesus said he was going to raise Lazarus and Thomas spoke of going with Jesus to die.

 

Again when Jesus is speaking of heaven, Thomas is the difficult one, not fully understanding Jesus, confessing his ignorance:

 

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14, NIV).

 

Most famously, Thomas doesn’t believe the rest of the disciples when they proclaim that He is risen:

 

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20, NIV).

 

In none of the occasions that Scripture records him is Thomas the quick-witted one, or faith-filled giant that others were.

 

In fact, we may feel that we are much like Thomas, missing the mark, the punch-line, the point, the epiphany. Although in the end Thomas did have an epiphany that compelled him to travel to India, far from home, and there to die a martyrs death.

 

As history records, he was pierced with a lance in AD 72.

 

What a strange bit of history that a Galilean should so believe that he would go to India because he loved the Indian people. And how fortunate for the Indian people that they had an opportunity to hear the good news.

 

More remarkable than an Englishman in New York:

 

A Galilean in Myalapore, India (St Thomas)

A Scot in Dutch South Africa (Andrew Murray)

 

This is the way that God works.

Saturday morning rainbow

It was a rainy Saturday morning, when, on the way in to the Cape Town CBD to sample Max Bagels (which I recommend, and see link below), we were greeted with the following scene:

 

A rainbow framing the entrance to the city. Being Biblically literate, when I see a rainbow I think of God’s promise to Noah in Genesis:

Rainbow arcing over Cape Town

“11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”” (Genesis 9, NIV).

 

It’s comforting to realise that none of us will have to prepare like Noah and his sons did for a universal deluge. God is merciful and he’s very slow to anger. It’s patently obvious however that man is not so inclined.

 

Considering the state of the world, combined with the types of weapons systems that are available, it’s not just a wonder that ultimate weapons haven’t been used, its grace. God restrains the types of things that can happen with men who have fingers on triggers.

 

America is ramping up to a situation where people are talking past each other and violence is increasing. The North Korea situation is on a knife’s edge, the Middle East is infested with IS and persecution of the small Christian minority. Africa is struggling to move past blaming every ill on white patriarchy.

 

The fellas over in D.C. and Virginia, and the egg-heads in think tanks are probably ploughing through boxes of antacids on a daily basis. It could all go wrong sharp-ish.

 

Since the conclusion of the cold war, there has been very little public awareness of nuclear proliferation and all of a sudden, there it is in 2017. Duck and cover.

 

There’s already enough to worry about without stressing about war in a nuclear age. It would be far nicer to consider what iterations of bagels can be enjoyed. However, consider that God is not haphazard or hurried, but is careful and all-powerful and nothing happens without his permission.

 

I’m thankful that the last time one of these things cooked off was in 1945 and that His mercy has kept us safe in the interim.

 

http://www.maxbagels.com/

Hebrews continued

At the beginning of 2016 I started with the book of Hebrews because it’s so deep and rich in meaning, demonstrating how the new covenant of grace has fulfilled the type, the shadow as seen in the rituals of the Old Testament.

 

The year was new and Hebrews seemed like the perfect book to study.

 

I acquired study materials online and did some reading up till around the 4th chapter and then went on to other things, which I suppose goes to show that I’m not unlike many of us who intend for great and disciplined things at the beginning of the year and then lapse into previously established patterns.

 

And now, meandering back through the latter half of the book of Hebrews, I measure myself against the heroes of the faith (“Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.” – Hebrews 11:2, NLT).

 

The measurement does not make me look good by comparison, but nevertheless I see that these giants of the faith, these witnesses surround the Christian as it’s his or her turn to run the race marked out for that one. (Hebrews 12:1)

 

And as for the writer’s concluding exhortation, the thirteenth chapter, I’ve been mulling on it for a few days.

 

Verse 1: We’re supposed to keep on loving fellow believers as brothers and sisters. So I’ve got to make sure that if I’ve been remiss in this that I ramp it up. I’m pretty sure the world of unbelievers can’t love Christians the way their fellow believers can and the way Christians need love and encouragement. The world of unbelievers is downright hostile, but I’ve been called to give it all for my brothers and sisters.

 

This includes hospitality to strangers, my fellow believers that I have yet to meet.

 

Verse 3: We are to remember those in prison as if we were there ourselves. The account of a South Korean Christian jailed by the North Korea regime is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Happily, he has been freed on medical grounds.

 

http://www.lifezette.com/faithzette/why-north-korea-released-christian-pastor/

 

The uncomfortable truth is that there are far more instances of our brethren jailed and persecuted for being Christians. It is very difficult to put ourselves in the position of others suffering for the faith…we’re busy living life, working 9 to 5, recuperating on the weekends and trying to keep head above water.

 

It makes me think that these brethren are more on the cutting edge of grace because they need it far more.

 

The things that our brethren are being subjected to are incomprehensible. The least I can do is pray for them. The very least.

 

http://www.faithwire.com/2017/08/08/horrific-new-details-emerge-of-christians-being-crushed-under-steamrollers-hung-over-fires-in-north-korea/

 

Verse 4: We are to keep the marriage bed pure. Not a very popular teaching recently, as God is thought to be quite intolerant in Western society currently. And since the politically correct commissars cannot touch Him, they go after His children.

 

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/hosting-same-sex-wedding-would-be-disobedience-to-god-beloftebos-venue-20170805

 

The world is pretty much hating on the church right now but in historical context, without the church, the alternatives might be pretty bleak, either communism or shariah, or some other authoritarian form of government.

 

Verse 5: We should be content with what we have and trust Him. It is admittedly easier to trust in money sometimes as we can manipulate and manage it, stockpile and store it, work for it and spend it; it is a thoroughly pliable thing. One thing money does do however: it forsakes us, and ultimately lets us down. God never will.

 

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

 

Verse 7: We are to remember our leaders in the church and the outcome of their way of life. I only wish I could have the same level of faith as some of these guys who go about as missionaries and give up so much time for the poor community down the road.

 

Verse 8: Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is dependable in a world where there are 18 tonnes of cow manure being disseminated daily on media and social media, and co-ordinated lying on an Albert Speer industrial scale, the Christian can always depend on Christ…as well as the non-Christian who comes to Him.

The Hebrews 13 flower…yesterday, today and tomorrow

Verses 15 and 16: We are to profess His name and the fruit of that will be praise.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg5qDljEw7Q

 

I also want to be faithful in doing good and sharing with others because it makes God happy.

 

And I love how the writer concludes: Grace be with you all. It doesn’t bear contemplation of where we would be without grace.