Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yes, we are really small, BUT...

In 1990, the Voyager spacecraft took a photo of the universe 6.1 billion km from earth. As it happened, the earth was captured as a tiny blue dot, amid beams of galactical light.

Dr Carl Sagan, a self-confessed agnostic, was an astronomer/astrophysicist at the time. He made the following remarks about the incredible photo (I have highlighted the important bits):

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

Despite having a completely opposing worldview to Dr Sagan, I agree with him on one point: Yes, we are small. When you take even a passing interest in stars, planets and the enormity of the universe, there is no doubt about this.

However, to describe our planet as "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam", "a small stage in a vast cosmic arena", "a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark", and simply leave it at that strikes me as bleak, cynical and depressing.

Where is the hope, meaning, significance or joy in holding a godless worldview like that? The idea that we have a privileged position in the Universe is not a delusion. When Jesus was crucified and resurrected for the sins of humanity, he did not do it for the mountains, the canyons, the birds, the trees, the oceans, the stars or planets, as magnificent as those things are. He did it for US! I think that makes us pretty privileged.

Oh, Dr Sagan, if you only knew. As small as we are, the good news is that God, the Creator of the universe is really, really BIG!

Journey of the Heart

In September 2009 I took the journey of a lifetime. I left my nice little safe, secure, comfortable Western world existence to visit three South American countries in the space of six days, out of my own pocket, and with minimal knowledge of Spanish, to visit three young people I'd never met before.

With the journey beginning the week before to immerse myself in New York and visit friends in New Jersey, the stats from my trip are staggering: 15 days, 15 flights, 10 airports, 69 hours in the air, 2 missed international flights & 13 hours of delays, 5 countries, thousands of $$$.

What would possess any sane, right-minded person to put themselves through this? One word: Compassion (both the quality and the organisation).

My involvement with the incredible holistic child-development organisation Compassion International started in 2006. And I am an unashamed Advocate/Supporter/Cheerleader and Warrior for the work that they do. After being immersed first-hand in the work that Compassion does to help "change the world...one child at a time", I know it is too simplistic to simply label it a "sponsorship organisation", because they do so much more than that.

Working with Compassion, I currently provide for (once again, "sponsor" is too simplistic) seven children and their families: Daila (Colombia), Sehila (Bolivia), Rosa (El Salvador), Kennedy (Kenya), Tegawende (Burkina Faso), Jean (Burkina Faso) and Jacqueline (Ecuador).

So, my mission on this "trip of a lifetime" was to travel to Bolivia, Colombia and El Salvador to visit my girls Sehila, Daila and Rosa. After all, I am in "relationship" with them, and we all know that our most meaningful relationships are with those we interact with face-to-face. I wanted the girls and their families to know that I really care about them, God cares about them, and I wasn't just some "face on a piece of paper", as it is so easy to think of the kids we sponsor.

Got heaps going on in the head, so TO BE CONTINUED...

A Different Perspective on the Importance of Children

Dr. Wess Stafford has been the CEO of Compassion International for 28 years, and has written an incredible book called "Too Small to Ignore". Here's some gold:

Some children suffer in great poverty, and others are smothered in the lap of luxury. Deep down, I have come to the conclusion that the reason they are such a low priority to the great human institutions that seek to control this world, both Christian and secular, is that an invisible battle, a spiritual war, rages over each and every child. It is above us and beyond us, and engages the full fury of the hosts of both heaven and hell. Children may be ignored by government, church and mission, but not by Satan or God Almighty.

First, we must understand that Satan knows the heart of God. It is Satan’s greatest joy and highest priority to do all in his power to break the heart of Elohim, the creator of heaven and earth. Remember that, as Lucifer, Satan was a witness to the process of creating the world. I can imagine heaven’s one-time chief angel watching with great interest as the Spirit hovered over a dark and formless world. He saw the dazzling advent of light. He watched amazed at the creation of land and sea, plants and animals – all the creative work of Jehovah. It frustrated and angered him to see the great joy and satisfaction God was getting from the emergence of this wondrous work of his hands.

Ever watchful for an avenue of attack, Satan found it in the moment God fashioned a man in His own image from the dust of the earth and then breathed his own breath into the man’s nostrils. Something about this crowning part of the Creation moved God deeply with a profound love. Satan saw it and knew he had found an inroad. All he had to do was attack and hopefully destroy mankind. He began his strategy as a serpent in the Garden of Eden, and has been doing it ever since.

At the moment of birth, all heaven stands in breathless anticipation and breaks into shouts of joy and praise. Each child is born into the world loved and full of potential to bring joy to the heart of God. A little flame flickers deeply in the child’s being. It reflects dignity and worth, made in the image of God Almighty.

Meanwhile Satan and his hosts stand ready to pounce and destroy that life as quickly and completely as possible, knowing how that will break the heart of God. All of heaven and hell are present and focused on the newborn life – for vastly different reasons. Both have strategic designs for this little one.

Given this frightening warfare between heaven and hell, it is all the more ironic that children are seemingly so unimportant to us adults. While all of heaven stands and cheers when a little one is born, and all of hell hurls itself at it’s destruction, we glibly go about our lives and ministries oblivious to the raging battle or the strategic importance of the children around us day by day.

What is to be done? It begins now, here and with you! It begins with the very next child God brings across your path. Every child you encounter is a divine appointment. With each one you have the power and opportunity to build the child up or tear the child down. A life can be launched with as little as a single phrase, an uplifting word, or an act of kindness.

The overwhelming potential of the Church

An incredibly impassioned plea from Louie Giglio at Hillsong 2007:

He breathed out the universe, and through His Spirit and the person of Jesus Christ, God the Creator of the Universe is living in the hearts of all believers, and you're telling me we, as the Body of Christ, can't feed, clothe or build a house for every child on the planet, put every family back together, can't eradicate AIDS, can't give clean drinking water to the billions of people who don't have it? You're telling me we can't do that? COME ON?!

Immortal Horrors or Everlasting Splendors

A quote from CS Lewis comparing the two eventual destinies of all humanity:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another. All friendships, all love, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization - these things are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals who we work with, joke with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

This is a sobering perspective, and has made me reconsider the way I approach my conversations and interactions with people.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rock Stars Cop a Raw Deal!

Seriously!

I always wanted to be a rock star. Music is one of my God-given talents. When I am playing the bass guitar or drums, mainly in church these days, I honestly feel like I'm doing what I was made to do. It's such a good feeling!

Therefore, the idea of getting paid, making a living from being up on a stage in front of lots of adoring people, and playing these instruments, would be the ultimate for me.

I truly believe rock stars often "cop a raw deal". They can't win. If they do the expected thing and live the shallow "sex-drugs-rock'n'roll" lifestyle, it inevitably ends in destruction of minds, bodies and relationships, and they get criticised for being selfish and greedy, and wasting their talents and money. This is fair enough.

However, some of them go the other way and find a cause that captures their imagination. Something that's greater than they are, that gives their lives significance and meaning. They want to use their influence and resources to make a difference in this stinkin' world! Good on them!! Much to their dismay, these noble crusaders are shot down for being too "preachy", or hypocritical. Prime examples of this type of rockstar are Bob Geldof, Chris Martin from Coldplay and Bono from U2.

Now, I'll admit I'm not approaching this subject from an objective, unbiased viewpoint. The point is: I LOVE U2!! Apart from the incredibly awesome anthemic hits, it is precisely Bono's passion, conviction and activism that drew me to him in the first place. I love that someone who has been so materially blessed cares so much about helping people in poverty. That is so close to God's heart.

A common cynical comment is that he preaches to us about poverty, then flies off to his fancy mansion in his big aeroplane. Now, I'm sure Bono and other "rock stars with a conscience" don't need me to go into bat for them, but I will. I believe they are quite entitled to enjoy the fruits and rewards of their hard work, and it is not our business or concern about how they spend their money. Each person will one day stand before God and be accountable only to Him.

In the meantime: keep churning out those hits, lads!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Intro

Hello, I'm David and welcome to my little corner of cyberspace.

I enjoy reading blogs. Most of the blogs I read belong to high-powered, influential people with squillions of followers, imparting their wisdom to the masses. In all humility I don't for a moment think that this blog will have the same impact. However, if something I write makes you think or act a bit differently or more positively, then I'm happy with that.

Just to let you know, I believe in God the Creator of the Universe, and the motivation for all I do and say comes from serving Him. It is a great way to live life, and is not a burden or chore at all!

The title of my blog comes from me sharing a name with a character from The Simpsons, which is a long-held passion I'm trying to purge myself of (help me God! :)

I am very intentional with the way I go about life. I believe God has wired every human being up in a unique way, and I feel sorry for people who spend their whole lives doing something that they either hate or are not good at, whether by choice or not.

My areas of strength are music, sport, technology and working with children, and everything I do in life comes under one of these four areas. I believe this is how I can bring maximum glory to God through my life.

I have a lot of thoughts swirling around at the moment, which is part of the reason for the creation of this blog. Enjoy