Friday, July 25, 2014

In Solidarity With . . . . . . . . .

TITLE: IN SOLIDARITY WITH  . . . . . . . . .
SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 29:7
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: July 25th, 2014

"Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (Jer 29:7)

A) Aviation Losses

Just last week, we hear of the terrible shooting of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner (MH17) over the land of Ukraine. It was a horrible act of violence inflicted by people engaged in the civil war going on in Ukraine. Standing in solidarity with the families of the victims, the employees of Malaysia Airlines, the people of Malaysia, the Internet is rife with show of support as well as anger against the violence. One such site is the Facebook page called "A Fly Guy's Cabin Crew Lounge" which has become a popular platform for airline workers from all over the world to extend their show of support. There were many moving messages of goodwill and love shared. Words such as "Rest in Peace MH17," "We Pray for MH17," "_____ Airways Love Malaysia Airlines," and so on, provide a small semblance of the positive side of humanity. Then two more disasters further clouded the scene. Calling it a "very bad week" for the aviation industry, news sites reported yet another two more crashes. On Wednesday, a TransAsia Airways plane crashed in Taiwan amid stormy weather killing 48 passengers. On Thursday, Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashed in Mali, killing 116 people. We stand in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones, employees who have been shaken up by the terrible tragedy, and all who feels unsafe to fly. It is human to feel vulnerable. It is also human to try and support one another.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Lament Over Flight MH17

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 28:1-2
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: July 18th, 2014
1To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. 2Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. (Ps 28:1-2)

How long O Lord, will this go on?  Two disasters, two 777s, and two tragic losses of lives. 

How long O Lord, must we hear bad news after bad news? People grieving over MH370 are already having a tough time. Malaysian Airlines are reeling off an increasingly gloomy economic outlook. People are just beginning to come around feeling more safe about commercial air travel. Then came this terrible news. Flight MH17 was shot down.

Why Lord? Why must such a thing ever be allowed to happen? I suppose this question is an age-old one, but Lord, a lot of us cannot help it but ask again and again.

Why? Why? Why?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

When Our Hearts Need a Retreat

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 4:13-14 / Matthew 11:28
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: July 12th, 2014
13Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” (Genesis 4:13-14)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Tom has been working 60 hours weeks. He gets to the office early before sunrise. He returns home after dark. At mealtimes, he will be checking his phone for emails. During conversations and coffee talks, he periodically checks for social media updates. He seems to respond faster to electronic communications than face to face casual chats. Friends have been asking him to take time off, go for a short holiday, or just have some private family time away from the office.

"What you need most is a vacation!" They say. Tom agrees. "Yes, I need a break."

This is a common refrain from people who have been too busy, hopelessly fatigued, and totally maxed out. Despite their exhaustion, they still prod along with their holiday planning, hoping that they can find some breathing space to rest and to recuperate. They carve out a time on the calendar They choose a nice vacation place, a holiday resort, or a quiet retreat location. They arrange their travel plans and then set off with dwindling energy but high expectations. However, there is a problem. Studies have shown that holidays can be one of the biggest stress points. News agencies like Forbes even published an article on how to handle holiday stress. The reason is simple. Vacationing is about lifting ourselves out of familiar grounds into strange territories. For those traveling far, there is that time difference. There is the cultural difference. There are differences in ways things are normally done and most importantly, difference in expectations through local and foreign eyes. Ironically, while the intention of going away is good, the actual going away can be particularly stressful and can create more restlessness.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Christian Discernment (Proverbs 3:5-6)

SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 3:5-6
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: July 4th, 2014

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

What is God's will? This is one question that has everyone agreeing as important but equally mystifying to many. Should I get married? If yes, who is the right one? If no, why? Which college should I apply for? What if there are no job interviews for me? Is it God's will to have children? One? Two? Or Three? What does the Bible say about discernment?

A) Christian Discernment: Man's Will or God's?

This week, I want to start looking at Christian Discernment, what it is and some thoughts about moving forward with it in our daily lives. I still remember vividly Parker Palmer's vocational discernment exercise that he had with a group of Quaker brothers. It was in his early years teaching sociology at Pendle Hill. One day, Palmer received an invitation to be the President of a small educational institution. He was flattered and enthused by the opportunity. Yet, something in him prompted him to get further affirmation from people he trusts. This group of people mainly helps him to discern what is God's will through listening and questioning. In truth, Palmer had already decided that he would take up the job. He only wanted the "clearness committee" to rubber stamp it to erase any doubt. The questions that came were easy, at least to Palmer. He had everything all thought out and ready answers to give. All of a sudden, one question stumped him: "What would you like most about being a president?" Eventually, Palmer was forced to a corner. Whatever answers he had given were of no consequence except one. Softly and meekly he said:

"Well, I guess what I'd like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it."

The reply to that honesty cracked everyone up: "Parker, can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?"