Wednesday, May 27, 2009
At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to a death penalty.
That was then the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals could die likeJesus. And with Jesus things were worst, because not all the criminals condemned to death could receive nails in their wrists and feet.
Of course, nails... Big nails! Each was 15 a 20 cm long, with a point of6 cm. Another point was the sharpness.
The nails were carved into the pulses, and not into the palms, as we areused to hear. In the pulse, there's a tendon which extends to theshoulder, and when the nails were being hammered, that tendon broke, obliging Jesus to reinforce all the muscles of His back, so that he could breath as He was losing all the air from His lungs.
In this way, He was forced to support Himself onto the nail craved inhis feet, which was bigger than those craved into his pulses, for bothfeet were craved together. And, as His feet could not endure for longtime without tearing, Jesus was forced to alternate that "cycle" so thatHe could breath.
Jesus endured that reality for over 3 hours.
Yes, over 3 hours! Long time, isn't it? Few minutes before He died,Jesus was not bleeding anymore.
He was simply pouring water from his cuts and holes.
When we imagine Him injured, we only picture Him with injuries, but itis not enough; His wounds were true holes, made in His body.
He had no more blood to bleed, He only poured water. Human body iscomposed of nearly 3.5 litres of blood (for adult).
Jesus poured all 3.5 litres of His blood; He had three nails hammeredinto His members; a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond that, a Roman soldier who nailed a spear into His chest.
All these without mentioning the humiliation He passed after carryingHis own cross for almost 2 kilometres, while the crowd spat in His face and threw stones (the cross was almost 30 kg of weight, only for itshigher part, where His wrists were nailed).
Jesus had to endure all this, so that we can have free access to God.
So that our sins could be "washed" away. All of them, with no exception!Don't ignore this situation.
HE DIED FOR YOU! For you, who now read this. Do not believe that He only died for others (those who go to the church or for pastors, bishops, etc).
He died for you! It is easy to pass jokes or foolish photos by e-mail,but when it comes to God, sometimes you feel ashamed to forward toothers because you are worried of what they may think about your morals.
Accept the reality, the truth that JESUS IS THE ONLY SALVATION FOR THEWORLD.
God has plans for you, show all your friends what He experienced to save you. Now think about this! May God bless your life!
Think a moment and appreciate the power of God in your life, for doingwhat pleases Him.
Yes, I love God. He is my source of life and my saviour. He keeps mealive day and night.
Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him "I can do all things throughChrist which strengthens me". Philippians 4:13.
Monday, May 25, 2009
April 6, 2009--A new x-ray image has revealed an unusual hand-shaped nebula that brings a whole new meaning to the expression "reach for the stars."
Known as B1509, the pulsar is thought to be about 1,700 years old and lies roughly 17,000 light-years from Earth.
The tiny pulsar is just 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) wide. But it is spinning so fast—it makes seven complete rotations every second—that the particles it spews have created a nebula spanning 150 light-years.
The pulsar's rapid rotation likely helped create the nebula's odd shape. Its finger-like pillars appear to be transferring energy to a nearby gas cloud, which glows orange and red in x-rays.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives and thoughts that we could easily fall into the trap of assuming that the world revolves around us. Galileo Galilei was hounded by critics when he proposed that contrary to popular belief the Earth actually revolved around the Sun.
Sometimes it is important that we put our problems into perspective by paying attention to the difficulties faced by others and the complexities of living on this planet.
I recently watched the movie "The Knowing", which starred one of my favourite actors, Nicholas Cage. Full of Biblical-inspired imagery, based on the Prophet Ezekiel's vision of God, the film centres around an imminent solar flare, just a little bigger than usual for the sun but, big enough to destroy all life on our planet.
As I walked out of the cinema that evening, I remarked to my wife that when you look at life from a global and perhaps even a galactic perspective, ones own issues do not seem as insurmountable.
If we focus too much on our own problems we fail to see opportunities where we may be able to help someone with theirs. At the same time those of us who are Christians must also be aware of focusing too much on this country, on this world while losing sight of the bigger picture, the Kingdom of God.
Last month a meeting of the Methodist Consultative Council of the Pacific took place in Suva which was attended by leaders of the Methodist Churches in Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, the United Churches of Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea and the Uniting Church in Australia. An observer of the proceedings, his first time at a regional ecumenical meeting, shared with me that he was surprised by the manner in which the discussions took place - discussion was frank, but speakers were humble, delegates represented their own countries and churches but were sincere in their solidarity for each other. The observer said to me that he had never seen a round table discussion like that before.
I said to him, "We are from different countries, but we are all citizens of the same Kingdom."
This is the very kingdom that Jesus inaugurated almost two millennia ago. The kingdom that all Christians pray will come when they say the "Lord's Prayer". But it is both an anticipated future as well as a present reality that all who follow Christ are called to manifest when they obey God's will. It is easy to pray for the future with out living out the present. It is easy to look to the future when we fail to live up to the requirements of our citizenship to the Kingdom of God.
As I was working on my sermon for last Sunday (7.30am and 10am Dudley Methodist Church, corner of Amy Street and Toorak Road - All Welcome) which is from the Gospel of Matthew 11:27-30, I came across this reflection by Bob Gass:
"You'll notice that unlike us, Jesus didn't suffer from the fear of failure. That's because He never entertained the thought that He couldn't do something His Father had already assured Him He could. And He didn't suffer from a fear of lack either. Even though He lived a simple life He was responsible for supporting Himself and a team of others.
How did He do it? He prayed a lot, and stayed in sync with His Heavenly Father. Consequently He knew how to catch fish when they weren't biting, or find tax money in a fish's mouth when He needed it.
(Yes, Jesus paid His taxes too!) Now God may not provide for you in exactly the same way, but He has promised to take care of you (See 1 Pet 5:7). Today Jesus is saying to you, "Come to Me... learn from Me... and you will find rest for your souls " (Matt 11:29 NIV)."
When we lose perspective, we lose the awareness that God is in control, no matter how bumpy the ride. Stress is brought on by our need to know everything ahead of time - to be in control.
Even after we pray and supposedly turn the situation over to God, we develop a 'backup plan' in case He doesn't handle things the way we think He should. We need to have at least that much confidence in God whose track record speaks for itself, whose faithfulness never fails, and who has earned the right to ask you, "Is anything too hard for ?"
(Gen 18:14 NIV). In other words - learn how to live like Jesus.
May the rest of your week be blessed with light, love, peace and the assurance of God's strength in your hour of need.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Published in The Fiji Times on Saturday, May 09, 2009
Today there is so much negativity in our world and in our own Fiji. Some people seem to highlight all the things that upset and distress us. Also the economic news we hear from around the world is nothing but gloom and doom. We seem to get a daily destructive diet of "it is going to get worse" calculated to instill fear into us and to take away any sense of hope and peace we may have deep within us.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus had a deep trust and confidence in the goodness and compassion of Abba, his Father, who is always close and who cares for what is happening to His creation especially to those He created to His image and likeness. From that confidence issued a sense of peace and hope. It gave Him a sense of assurance that all would be well even when everything looked dark and hopeless. This sense of confidence and hope in a loving God was with him even on the Cross. As he faced death he could say: "Father I place my life in your hands."
The Risen crucified Christ offered his followers his special greeting of Peace Shalom. Whenever he appeared to them after his resurrection his greeting was always "Peace". In our Christian liturgy, during the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we continue to repeat this message of peace to one another. Peace is so important because it drives out fear and gives us confidence that God is with us in the ups and downs of our lives.
Fearfulness has no place in the life of disciples.
What I am discussing and encouraging is not a false sense of hope based on wishful thinking but a confidence grounded in our firm belief in a God who loves us and cares for us. The surface of the water may be full of waves lashed by the winds, but deep down in the water below there is peace.
If we were to ask what Jesus' mission statement was we might say that it is somehow captured in the term "the kingdom of God". This was the focus of his life and activity. With his life and activity Jesus inaugurated a new way of being, a new way of doing things and a new way of relating to others that would be inclusive, non-discriminatory and non-violent. We are children of a common Father who is Creator God.
Today there is great cause for hope because, all over the world, there are people - Christian, Muslim, Hindus, Buddist and others who want to give birth to new social, political and economic paradigms that are rooted in economic and social justice, respect for human rights, protecting the environment, redistributing wealth and non-violent conflict resolution.
It is to be hoped that the economic collapse that we are experiencing around the world will give rise to a serious re-thinking of economic theories and policies that will be the beginning of a global economic restructuring and rebalancing in favour of greater accountability and social justice.
We must make sure that the economic crisis is not made an excuse to preserve the wealth of the elites and to further add to the problems of the poor and ordinary people in our society.
Today we need more than ever to help one another by sharing our limited resources. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his message for World Peace Day in January 2009: "The conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community. We are called to form one family in which all individuals, peoples and nations model their behaviours according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility."
The evidence of so many conflicts in the world shows that hostility and hatred are no basis for building a better future. The key to a new and better future for us all lies in transcending hatred, animosity, racism and hostility. To build a Fiji where people of different cultural and religious backgrounds can live together in harmony and trust, compassion and sharing we must have love, respect, humility and other centered. Dialogue is an essential step in bringing this about. That means encouraging people to communicate across boundaries and seek reconciliation.
We need to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in the one family of God and live together in harmony sharing the benefits of a world which God entrusted to us for the common good so that no-one lives in poverty and insecurity.
We are to live as decent human beings.
Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara once declared: "Fiji is home to us all." Our challenge is to make this a reality today. For such a dream to be possible we need greater understanding of one another, a deeper sense of forgiveness, and a willingness to search for social justice. We need to listen to one another and build a sense of trust. In a word we need a willingness to change change of heart and a change of attitudes - and openness to new possibilities. We must take seriously the common humanity we share and work for the common good not just the special interests of particular groups. We must create a nation built on love. To do this means that we must face the hard facts of traditional divisions, religious divisions, extreme nationalism, injustice and conflict. In dialogue with others we must seek solutions that will bring reconciliation and change.
It is not easy to build cultural understanding, to share our resources and to change attitudes. But this is the challenge that confronts us today if we are to live in harmony and build a better Fiji together. It requires of us continual struggle in the face of recurring obstacles and disappointments. Above all it requires changes within selves. Only changed people can change the world around them.
A new and better Fiji will begin and grow through the changed attitudes and actions of ordinary people like you and me.
The changed attitudes and actions of chiefs, religious leaders, politicians and business leaders.
My son, Francisco-Xavier, has a bedtime prayer which he prays every night and often adapts for his morning prayer: "Oh Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this night/day be at my side; to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen."
At first when he started to recite this prayer, it was at his hyperactive pace, which is often quite close to the speed of light. However as he started to teach his little sister Antonia, he began to slow down and I was able to hear the words clearly for the first time.
Too often we forget that God has his divine agents at work in this world as well as the many humans who committed their lives to serving him. In doing so we neglect the fact that much of the good we do is not merely our own doing and that those gentle nudges and prods and perhaps the odd firm push in the right direction in our moments of indecision, lack of faith and lapse of courage are the work of angels.
It is easy in an age where angels and the mystical elements of the Divine are subjected to the same treatment as science fiction, to overlook the metaphysical elements of the bible.
In Psalm 34:7 it is written, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." (New International Version)
There was a prophet in the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha. At a certain time he was in a city besieged by a large alien army that was there to take him, to capture him. His servant went up on the roof and pointed out to him the tremendous numbers of the opposing army, but Elisha prayed for that young servant and said, "Lord, open this young man's eyes." And when He opened his eyes he saw the armies of God around about the prophet, far greater in number and infinitely greater in power than those invading alien armies (2 Kings 6: 14-17).
Luke writes, in the Acts of the Apostles, of the angel freeing the apostles from prison and commanding them to continue to preach and teach in defiance of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Acts 5:17-25).
Derek Prince writes, "Do you believe in angels? I want to tell you that I do. I believe there are myriads and myriads of good angels who are given charge over God's people.
Another passage says that God will give His angels charge over us to guard us in all our ways. I tell you, I believe we need the guardianship, the protection and the support of angels. I'm glad to know that wherever I go there's an angel of God that encamps around about me and he delivers me. I believe that if God could open our eyes we'd see it's true today. Those that be with us are more than those that be with them. We have a great unseen army on our side."
Whenever we feel, alone, dejected and disempowered, be encouraged, take heart and open our senses to the presence of the Lord's angels encamping round about us to deliver us.
May your week be blessed with love, light, peace and the awareness of God's angels in our midst.
* Reverend Bhagwan, an award-winning radio and television producer and writer, is a Librarian and Assistant Lecturer at the Methodist Davuilevu Theological College. All
* Opinions expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinion and policies of the Methodist Church in Fiji or any organisation that Mr Bhagwan is affiliated with. Email: padrejamesgmail.com
Response to the recent Fiji blogs reporting on tensions between the military and the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma.
1. UnitingWorld is in close open communication with the leadership of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma (MCF) and is regularly briefed on the unfolding situation. This close communication will continue.
2. The MCF has determined to pursue a path of dialogue with the military leadership of Fiji.
3. In the absence of a free and uncensored media much of the news coming from Fiji originates from unofficial blogs. Information purporting to be news may be based on rumours and cannot always be authenticated
4. We are reliably advised that the reported detention of Reverend Manasa Lasaro, former President of the MCF, has not occurred at this time.
5. A statement reported to have been made by the Methodist Consultative Council in the Pacific (MCCP) immediately after Easter is not from the MCCP.
6. We continue to stand in solidarity with the leadership of the Methodist Church in Fiji who we believe have acted responsibly and carefully in very difficult circumstances.
7. We invite members of the Uniting Church in Australia to uphold the President, the Reverend Ame Tugaue, the General Secretary, the Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu and the Deputy General Secretary, the Reverend Tevita Banivanua, in prayer.
8. The Uniting Church in Australia must allow the MCF leadership to manage their response and not exacerbate a very complex situation.
Kerry Enright Bruce Mullan
National Director Associate Director (Pacific)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Last Updated: Fri, 01 May 2009 11:00:00 +1000
Air Pacific says flights between Nadi, in Fiji, and the Gold Coast, in north-east Australia, are being suspended.
The company's chief executive, John Campbell, says the economic downturn has resulted in poor demand and increasing losses.
"We started the service only from the beginning of December in 2008 against what was a reasonably difficult economic climate and the route has never had the chance to establish itself properly," he said.
"They normally take about six to eight months to be established and unfortunately the economic circumstances in both Fiji and Australia have deteriorated further over that time."
He says Air Pacific hope to recommence flights when the economic conditions improve.
Mr Campbell says customers who have already made booking on flights between the Gold Coast and Fiji will be rebooked on the company's daily flights to Brisbane, capital of Queensland state.
Last Updated: Fri, 01 May 2009 14:41:00 +1000
Fiji's acting prime minister, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, has defended the refusal of the country's military leader to abide by an election deadline set by the Pacific Islands Forum.
The regional body says elections must be held this year, or Fiji will be expelled from the forum at midnight on Friday.
Military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama has said he has no intention of meeting that deadline.
Mr Sayed Khaiyum told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program it is not the right time for elections in Fiji.
"What we are actually being told by Australia and New Zealand in particular - you must have elections irrespective of the fact that the electoral system is skewed, have elections now and that means democracy," he said.
"Democracy is not simply having elections, in particular when the elections are based on the electoral system that is skewed and does not give you full suffrage. "
Last Updated: Fri, 01 May 2009 14:33:00 +1000
Fiji's military leader has again said he has no intention of meeting a demand from the Pacific Islands' Forum to hold elections this year.
The forum has set a deadline of midnight Friday for Fiji to agree to the poll or face suspension from the regional body.
Interim Prime Minister and coup leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama has made it clear there will not be elections until 2014.
He has told Sky News it is Australia and New Zealand that should be expelled.
"If it was up to me, we would remove Australia and New Zealand from the forum," he said.
Ready to talk
As well, the commodore also says he is prepared to take part in a summit with the two countries.
Both Australia and New Zealand ruled out talks with Fiji's coup leader.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Fij's's recent actions means he is not taking the offer seriously.
Mr Rudd said: "I don't regard that as a basis for business as usual."
New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully says an official announcement of suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum is likely in the next couple of days.
But Mr McCully says that doesn't mean that the door will be permanently closed on Mr Bainimarama.
If the suspension goes ahead, it will be the first time in the Pacific Islands' Forum's 38-year history that a member nation has been suspended.
World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) Statement for World Press Freedom Day May 3, 2009
WACC recognizes – along with many others – that freedom of the press underlies democracy and enhances freedom of expression. The capacity of the ‘fourth estate’ to hold governments and public institutions accountable, to inform and alert the world’s people is indispensible. And never more so than in an age of 24/7 digital communication.
Press freedom is essential for the media to foster dialogue, challenge violations of human rights and the rule of law, and expose corruption. Press freedom is a matter of life and death. Already in 2009, Reporters Without Borders has recorded the deaths of 18 journalists and the imprisonment of 143 journalists and 66 cyberdissidents. Article 19 recently highlighted the plight of women journalists in Yemen, who are subject to censorship and slanderous attacks ‘simply because they are women’. Journalists everywhere must be able to practice their profession without fear and censorship. The resurgence of official censorship in Fiji is of particular concern on this World Press Freedom Day.
Good governance and informed democratic participation depend on a free press. They also depend on diverse and pluralistic media that follow high professional and ethical standards of accuracy and inclusiveness, and that are not beholden to special private or political interests. Only the observance of high professional standards enables the media to hold or gain credibility with the public. A public well served by a highly professional and ethical press is a public that will see value in press freedom.
Thus, media responsibility and accountability in combination with press freedom lie at the heart of democratic processes. With this in mind, civil society media observatories have begun to monitor media content and to critique media ownership and control. Media reform movements in Europe, Latin America and North America underscore the need and desire for an inclusive, diverse, vibrant and fair media free from political and commercial special interests.
When the mass media are free, independent, responsible and accountable can they contribute meaningfully to the life and liberty of the populations they serve. A free press that gives voice to minorities and marginalized groups promotes dialogue and mutual understanding among the different groups in society.
Press freedom in combination with media professionalism and responsibility enables spaces in which to inform and be informed, to debate public-policy making and the way powerful public and private institutions are run. Together they enable alternative points of view and – ultimately – truth-telling in matters of public concern.
WACC stands for communication rights in a pluralistic society. We believe that press freedom in combination with media professionalism, responsibility and accountability is vital to open dialogue and debate in a world of diversity. Media practitioners and civil society can work together to bring this about.
The Rev. Randy Naylor
General Secretary, WACC
WACC promotes communication for social change. It believes that communication is a basic human right that defines people's common humanity, strengthens cultures, enables participation, creates community and challenges tyranny and oppression.