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Time to Wake Up
Brett Anderson ©2005

Originally, I had actually thort that I wasn't going to write a thort related to the horrible tragedy that has occured and sent ripples across the world, with the whole earthquake and tsunami that recently hit, killing so many people and affecting millions more across the world, in fact probably all of us in some way or another...

But then I read these two articles that I felt actually had quite a powerful message to say, altho they are contradictory in parts (the one blames it on satan, the other one throws in another possibly- surprising possible option) there is definite truth and challenge in the main message and thrusts of them and so I trust you will get something out of it. Because of the contradictions it will require us to use our brains and do some thinking and reasoning and Bible- checking to see what we think to be the truth... which I think will be really healthy... I do agree strongly with a lot of what both these articles say, but not 100% obviously and so I may share some of my thorts at the end.

A while back I did a book review of a book by K.P. Yohannan who is hugely involved in the organisation 'Gospel for Asia' which is an awesome book which I know a number of you got and read (as it is offered free on the internet) and this is their response to the event:

Tsunami Survivors Desperate for Help, Open to Gospel

By Allie Martin January 5, 2005

(AgapePress) - The president of Gospel for Asia says the devastating earthquake and tidal wave that hit South Asian countries in late December should make every true believer focus on evangelism.

Current estimates indicate more than 140,000 people were killed when the tsunami swamped the coastlines of a dozen Asian countries on Christmas weekend. Indonesia was hardest hit, reporting nearly 100,000 deaths. Also suffering tremendous loss of life was Sri Lanka (~30,000), India (almost 10,000), and Thailand (~5,000). In addition, several European nations lost citizens who were vacationing in the region. The United States is confirming 36 deaths of its citizens, but several thousand Americans have not yet been located.

K.P. Yohannon of Gospel for Asia, which plants churches in those areas hardest hit by the disaster, says the tragedy should cause Christians around the world to re-evaluate their evangelistic efforts.

"When I heard [about the tsunami disaster], the first thing that hit me so hard was that the Lord's coming is very near -- and we will hear of more things like this all over the world because the time is running out," Yohannon says. "Secondly ... we don't recognize half of the world never heard that Jesus ever came into the world to forgive sins." That, he says, constitutes "an incredible challenge, a desperate cry for us to not lose any more opportunities [to share the gospel], but to be unselfish in our praying and our giving to touch a world that never heard Jesus' name."

According to the GFA leader, Christian workers who are assisting the survivors are reporting that many are open to the gospel.

"As we go about ministering to the suffering people -- tens of thousands of people -- I'm hearing that many are listening and [asking] why it happened, saying 'We prayed to our gods' and 'Our gods did this to us.'" Such words, he says are "very painful."

"Of course, our missionaries are able to explain to them that God is love, [that] Satan is causing this disaster, and that we can trust God," he says. "There's such a dire need at this time -- and I pray that people of God will wake up and do what we should do at this time."

Gospel for Asia has started an emergency fund to provide victims with food, shelter, clean water, clothing, and critical medicines. The ministry, which is planning a multi-phase effort aimed at meeting the physical and spiritual needs of survivors, says donations for relief efforts can be made through its website.

The second piece was handed to me as I entered a church I was visiting this morning in Somerset West:

Tsunami and Repentence - January 5, 2005 - Fresh Words Edition - by John Piper

From pulpits to news programs, from the Ney York Times to the Wall Street Journal, the message of the tsunami was missed.

Every deadly calamity is a merciful call from God for the living to repent. "Weep with those who weep," the Bible says. Yes, but let us also weep for our own rebellion against the living God. Lesson one: weep for the dead. Lesson two: weep for yourselves.

Every deadly calamity is a merciful call from God for the living to repent. That was Jesus' stunning statement to those who brought Him news of calamity. The tower of Siloam had fallen, and 18 people were crushed. "What about this, Jesus?" they asked. He answered, "Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." [Luke 13:4-5]

The point of every deadly calamity is this: Repent. Let our hearts be broken that God means so little to us. Grieve that He is a whipping boy to be blamed for pain, but not praised for pleasure. Lament that He makes the headlines only when man mocks His power, but no headlines for ten thousand days of wrath withheld. Let us rend our hearts that we love life more than we love Jesus Christ. Let us cast ourselves on the mercy of our Maker. He offers it through the death and resurrection of His Son.

This is the point of all pleasure and all pain. Pleasure says: "God is like this, only better; don't make an idol out of me. I only point." Pain, on the other hand, says: "What sin deserves is like this, only worse; don't take offence at me. I am a merciful warning."

But the topless sunbathers amidst the tsunami aftermath in Phuket, Thailand, did not get the message. Neither did the man who barely escaped the mighty wave with the help of a jungle gym and palm-leaf roof. He concluded, "I am left with an immense respect for the power of nature." He missed it. The point is: reverence for the Creator, not respect for creation.

Writing in the New York Times, David Brooks rightly scorns the celebration of nature's might: When Thoreau (celebrates the) savage wilderness of nature, he sounds, this week, like a boy who has seen a war movie and thinks he has experiences the glory of combat." But Brooks sees no message in the calamity: "This is a moment to feel deeply bad, for the dead and for those of us who have no explanation."

David Hart, writing in the Wall Street Journal, goes beyond Brooks and pronounces: "No Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God's inscrutible counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God's good ends."

These responses are foreseen in Scripture: "I killed your young men with the sword...yet you did not return to Me, declares the Lord." [Amos 4:10] "They cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give Him glory." [Revelations 16:9]

Contrary to Hart's pronouncement, the Christian Scriptures do indeed license us to speak of God's "inscrutible counsels" and how He works in all things for mysterious good ends. To call this banal and blasphemous is like a bird calling the wind under its wing wicked.

Jesus said that the minutest event in nature is under the control of God. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" [Matthew 10:29] He said this to give hope to those who would be killed for His name.

He Himself stood on the sea and stopped the waves with a single word [Mark 4:39]. Even if Nature or Satan unleashed the deadly tidal wave, one word from Jesus would have stopped it. He did not speak it. This means there is design in this suffering. And all His designs are wise and just and good.

One of His designs is my repentance. Therefore I will not put God on trial. That is my place. And only because of Christ will the waves that one day carry me away, bring me safely to His side. Come. Repentence is a good place to be.

"Len de Beer writes: I have heard a number of railings against God from the secular press (the International Herald Tribune being one culprit). They ask, "How could He allow this?" Bit isn't the very question an example of double standards. WHEN WE TREAT GOD AS IF HE DOES NOT EXIST, HOW CAN HE THEN BE HELD RESPONSIBLE WHEN SOMETHING GOES 'WRONG?'"

Will Durant stated that, "Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice." I think the same applies to our lives except it is God that does the consenting."

To sum up the two articles, I really do think there is truth in both of them altho I personally enjoy and agree with the second article more.

But some stuff of significance or worth giving some thort from the first article for me would be:

"the devastating earthquake and tidal wave that hit South Asian countries in late December should make every true believer focus on evangelism."

"the first thing that hit me so hard was that the Lord's coming is very near -- and we will hear of more things like this all over the world because the time is running out" [something a lot of us don't like to think about, but Jesus often cautioned us to live as if He was coming back that night - live lives that are ready/fruitful/aware]

"to be unselfish in our praying and our giving to touch a world that never heard Jesus' name."

Some stuff of significance or worth giving some thort from the second article for me would be:

"Every deadly calamity is a merciful call from God for the living to repent."

"let us also weep for our own rebellion against the living God."

"Let our hearts be broken that God means so little to us."

"Grieve that He is a whipping boy to be blamed for pain, but not praised for pleasure."

"This is the point of all pleasure and all pain. Pleasure says: "God is like this, only better; don't make an idol out of me. I only point." Pain, on the other hand, says: "What sin deserves is like this, only worse; don't take offence at me. I am a merciful warning.""

"One of His designs is my repentance. Therefore I will not put God on trial. That is my place."

Reading through this stuff tonite, I believe God has really placed a theme on my heart of 'A Wake-up call' which in many different aspects is what this tsunami is and has been for a lot of people in different ways. I think that will be a key aspect of TFTW over this next year - really wanting to shake people up into living as if each day was our last; living lives of worship to God and service of other people; prioritising God and people over money, fame, possessions, sporting achievement, other worthless stuff; encouraging people to take advantage of all the promises and power of God and live lives to the full as opposed to the watered down live-comfortably-for-the-moment-of-happiness shadows of life that the world offers... and more...

You think the tsunami was not your problem cos it happened far away and no one you know got hurt? IT IS YOUR PROBLEM! IT IS MY PROBLEM!! Because of all the reasons above and because the meaning and point of our lives is God. Take as much time as you need to look over your life and really think about stuff and gain some perspective and then take action. If you need to throw crap out, then throw crap out. If you need to change your attitude or your behaviours or your treatment of people or your priorities then do that. If you need to sell or give stuff away (especially if it's become an idol to you) then do it. There is not time for games and lukewarmness (lukewarm gets spat out anyways!) - there is time to GET REAL!... so please everyone, let's do that... and let's help each other along as we do, cos it's not all easy and straightforward and obvious all the time - that's why God gave us the Body (the church, Christian family) - to help us get through this thing together, and be saving people along the way.

Have a great week and an awesome worthwhile year, being Faithful In Serving Him! And PLEASE this week in particular, forward the message part of this to every Christian on your email list - this is the kind of stuff we should be thinking about and acting on.