tibetan interest

Travelling through Sydney's CBD my cab was suddenly halted by a swarm of people heading towards Martin Place. I shifted along the back seat to view the signs and speakers, people and police gathered for the Stand Up for Tibet global awareness protest.

At lunch I joined the crowd to listen in on the various campaigns:

Boycott the Beijing Olympics!
Free Tibet!
Listen to Dalai Lama!
China, stop the killing!
I can't believe this, I mean people are people. a man to my left spoke under his breath. I greeted Steve and began an interesting chat.
You were saying 'people are people', what do you mean?
Well no matter who you are, you have rights you know?
Absolutely. How did you come to know that?
Human rights? I didn't, its just in us. Innocent people shouldn't be killed, simple.
Playing the devil's advocate here, what if China doesn't formally recognise human rights?
Well then you've gotta show em the right way, step in and get rid of them all.
Wouldn't that be killing innocent people?
What do ya mean?
Like, are the Chinese military innocent of killing because they are ignorant of human rights?
Na, see everyone knows the right thing to do. Even if the law says killing is ok, its still wrong.
So where do these absolute rights and morals come from?
I don't know, I guess we work them out. Don't need a big man upstairs to tell us.

The return cab trip was a quiet one as I considered our culture's arrogance.
Why is our take on human rights and morals the right one?
Why is credit rarely given to our Christian heritage?
Should we force China to adopt our law?
How's the travel been with the protest and all? I said to the driver, breaking the silence.
The Free Tibet one.
No idea, never heard of it.
You know, in the news about the Tibetan monks standing up for China's oppression?
Na, I guess people are more concerned about interest rates than what goes on in Tibet.

There we have it, the perfect answer of selfish western culture. So bluntly put, it struck a chord within, compelling me to discern what parts of my life do not conform to the selflessness and humility of Jesus Christ.

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bible skeptics

During a work celebration today the DaVinci Code was mentioned among the many topics of conversation. This was by far the most interesting of discussions as it reappeared throughout our gathering. As I sat and listened to each co-worker giving their 2cents worth, I was surprised by how predictable the discussion was. I almost wanted to finish their sentences like an impatient partner. The reasoning was as follows:

The Bible
    - was written down generations after the events
    - was changed over time to suit the church
    - had left out gospels that contradicted others
    - doesn't even agree with itself
Conclusion: the Bible can't be trusted and therefore it doesn't matter what it says.
How to respond? Every Christian knows how to respond because there are plenty of books, blogs, articles, and sermons that step through each of these objections, either refuting them or providing a better explanation. The average may not be able to articulate the truth easily, but the common understanding among Christians is that these skeptical views of the Bible are ridiculous. But if skepticism towards the Bible's reliability is so obviously wrong, why do the majority of people remain skeptical?

I chose to respond with the common ground of secular historians, pointing out how they poke fun at the DaVinci Code and consider the Bible very reliable even though they disagree with its message. The conversation continued back and forth with little progress. Towards the end I said:
Everyone needs to decide
    - who are the most trustworthy sources?
    - what do they claim about Jesus?
    - what is my response to these claims?
The conversation dwindled as another started so I'm assuming everyone will be unchanged in their skepticism.

So why don't I spend the rest of this blog refuting the objections?
    Simple, the answers are already out there.
If there are answers why are people still skeptical?
    Because of their bias towards a world-view
But aren't Christians the ones with a bias?
    Yes... but the Christian world-view claims everyone has a bias. As Jesus said "whoever is not with me is against me". To consider Jesus' claims seriously (including the one above) you must be willing to be skeptical about your own skepticism.

What does this have to do with commuting? Bible skeptics continually appear on my travels therefore I must deeply reflect on this topic more often.

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idle travel

Four straight days I have had the luxury of my own seat, my own space, my own speed, my own sounds. This week the norm was after-hours work that required the company van to which I gladly accepted and enjoyed.

Change of travel method changed a few things:
   - evangelising yourself yields little results
   - prayer is more responsible with open eyes
   - alert thinking is more important than abstract pondering
Most alarming however - the same travel time was far less effective.
Gone were the Bible reading, blog scanning, note taking days
Here were the radio comedy, news updates, traffic watch days

By the third day I adopted a somewhat awkward way of productive travel - Keller and Piper sermons playing through my laptop via a twisted pair of headphones. I'm interested to here how the experienced car commuter uses their time? Or even those who have purposely tackled the idle time of daily errands?

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jesus-spotting while train-spotting

The noise of the daily newspaper filled the carriage as commuters sought distraction from mundane travel. I too desired entertainment, adding keyboard clicks amongst the commotion. Thanks to Google Alerts a somewhat unnoticed news story (Jan) filled the screen:

Jesus appears on train platform

Surprised at the title I read on to discover this occurred at Waverton, just three stations from my work. In my usual skepticism I began to question:
- Why is Jesus always the protagonist for cryptic images?
     Surely he has better things to do!
- How do people know what Jesus looks like?
     He most probably had short hair. Men grew their hair under Nazirite vow.
- Why is Jesus personally responsible for these random portraits?
     They couldn’t possibly the work of artists!
On a similar theme:
- What's with faith healers and Jesus-spotting? (a term I just coined)
     Benny Hinn claimed he has footage of Jesus appearing at his crusade.
TBN 2000-04-02
True - dodgy appearances don’t negate the possibility of true appearances. Paul and Stephen encountered Jesus in a powerful display of His glory. On the other hand, Kenneth Hagin’s famous visitation was a desperate attempt to credit his laws of prosperity. The message content is the key.
- So what to do with a Jesus appearance without a message?
     If nothing more, crazy Jesus-spotting claims create opportunity to share the true gospel with those interested.

Jesus' second coming will be far from cryptic or be light-heartedly dismissed…

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