Thinking about Christmas

I thought more about Christmas this year. Is it a time to eat drink and be merry? Receive mounds of presents?

Each year we have this habit (obsession?) to write many cards, prepare many presents. How come offering presents and focusing on others can become a distraction?

Christmas is about Christ. About the creator, our indescrible and uncontainable God humbling himself to be in flesh and blood, to live amongst us, to show us a way to life. This is the reason for our rejoicing, our celebrations, our show of love for each other is centred upon.

This year, for myself, I realised giving presents to family is sufficient. To encourage closer friends to remember God in the midst of the festivities.

Op shops

I love the $1 christmas sales, what a bargain!

As younger kids in high school we were like 'eww, old clothes'. Or, the more expensive the more trendy. But I guess when you're more comfortable with yourself, care less about other people's styles and trends, op shops are good places to shop!

Death is real

I was watching another one of those stupid zombie shows - movies that make light of killing and death. Soon after heard the news (click for news on TV) of our high school classmate who died in a car crash. Deaths and road accidents here and there every day, but shocking and unreal when it's someone who went to school with, saw daily, talked to, teased, grew up with. One who barely turned 21, attending uni and probably facing exam periods like most of us. How dare death just end everything?

The article disappoints me with it's brief and cold description. Then I'm moved, realising road toll statistics and morbidity data are not mere numbers. Behind each number there is a life, a family, a circle of friends, a story. Disease and death are so de-personalised in medicine. Oh that I would always see life, death, disease as a compassionate human being, not a med student for whom these are simply topics of study.

Only in death do we realise that life is a gift. To all of his classmates and friends, it's a shock that such a thing could happen. Death is real and inevitable, happening to anyone at anytime. Even at the prime of our youth when we feel that we have forever to dream, to pursue interests, to enjoy life. A fear that anyone, even those in our own circles, can be taken without warning. When we consider the end, how does it change our perspective of life? How do we live meaningfully, purposefully? When we dream, have hopes for and plans for the future, for holidays, for travel, career, love, marriage, children... surely we need to be humble in acknowledging we are not in control.

Now listen, you who say "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-14)

Let's be humble before our Lord God. Let's not pretend that we are gods of our lives, that if we can plan and make our own success, happiness, even meaning.

God, why don't you warn us individually? Why allow such suffering on families, such a heaviness in the hearts of friends? How would I continue to have faith and trust if this was my best friends, my dear family? If such was the case.. I would be mouring and crying out to God in despair and desperation, asking why why why! instead of considering life and existance like this. I believe God grants us wisdom when we ask, but don't think we can ever fully comprehend suffering and death completely. As it is here are my thoughts.

I had a sudden awareness that many of my friends do not know God, with confusion and sorrow I asked: God where is your love and mercy, how can you bear to see anyone perish, why will you not save all?! Then I caught a glimpse of why God's heart yearns for us to turn to him. He does not want to see a single person perish. Yet he gives us free will, to chose how we live our current life, to choose whether we love him and want to spend eternity with him.

How do we know he loves and yearns for us? Before we knew him "everything was done so you would come" - as the lyrics go. God prepared a way for us to be in his holy presence despite us choosing to ignore him, choosing to be our own gods or follow idols like money and power, choosing "freedom" that is actually sin that brings us destruction, choosing blatant evil. That's why Jesus came: "for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) He takes no delight in punishing. "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live." Ezekial 33:11

Death is disruptive, it's unnatural - and was not so before sin came into the world. And God has "set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

For non-Christian friends, do you feel comfortable with the fact that your life will end one day? Do you know where you are going? Do you live in denial of death? Knowing life is brief, is it enough to hedonistically "eat, drink and be merry" and not consider the end?

As Christians, do we truly not only believe, but obey God - loving him with all our heart, strength and mind, and finding ways to serve him wherever we are? And do we have a heart to share with those who have not had the same opportunity to hear the "good news"?

For us all: how will we live purposefully and meaningfully, how will our priorities change, how will we be different to each of our friends and loved ones? Let the death of a friend not be in vain, but touch us deeply, sharpening our perspective and motivate us all to live "better" lives.

edit// here is the more recent, less cold and more human news article


Oh! my dear old lover!

Or more like my old addiction. It's a very surreal experience to step into the virtual world you lived in years ago. It started with seeing the websites, blinkies, graphics I used to make. Visited the site, the message boards, the pets, the items, the neopoints.

Some things have changed. Chatspeak is no longer cool, and "being literate", maturity and "15+, 18+, 21+" guilds are in. There is a lot of advertising on the site, and the money hungry website developers schemes to have premium accounts, paid merchandise etc. Fascinating.

However, most things are constant. There are strange disputes over small matters in the message boards, typical young teenage things that we got into back then... The kind of "world" these virtual communities create, with rich and poor, those with power, those with pretty houses and pets, the immature brats and old, "mature" citizens.

I guess it's escapism, and gives everyone an opportunity to own a little kingdom, even if it's virtual. Especially the guilds - recruiting members, organising activities... The status of being a guild leader, a council member, especially of a large, active and prosperous guild - I think I used to have such aspirations. The student organisations at uni are not too different in nature (but are grounded in reality).

I was 13 back then, and anyone above 18 I would wonder at what in the world were they doing, still playing such a game. Now I'm 20, and I myself am the freak, playing the child's game. Though there seems to be a disproportionately large adult population there these days, which is scary.

Nostalgic, slightly, but glad to have gradually lived more and more in the "real world" over the last few years. Glad that I no longer care for pets that don't exist, virtual money, or neofriends - most of whom you talk to for a short while and disappear from your life (with a few exceptions). Now on a journey to learn to care for the people around me, do the work or study God has put before me, use real money wisely.

"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible" --but not everything is constructive. - 1 Corinthians 10:23

This is a "believer's freedom" - as the NIV bible titles it. Not talking about blatant sin here. But things not inheritantly evil in themselves - games, surfing, facebook, TV, partying. Freedom is not to do whatever we like, whenever we like. But to be free of those things that have a hold on us, that saturate our minds so that we no longer consider the truly important things in life, no longer strive for growth and understanding in Christ.


By Lord Byron

To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, 'tis but to hold
Converse with Nature's charms, and view her stores unrolled.

But midst the crowd, the hurry, the shock of men,
To hear, to see, to feel and to possess,
And roam alone, the world's tired denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less
Of all the flattered, followed, sought and sued;
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!

A beautiful poem, a memorable poem. One that comes to mind from time to time. I pasted it on my last blog too.

Which one are you?

I should be (and am) studying for my last exam that's in less than two hours. But I like this. It was from our lecture on why doctors are predisposed to mental illness and substance abuse. Apparently we have dependent, obsessive personalities.

Found the images online, they're of the same thing. First one looks prettier but you can't read the text.

Med students

Are, in general, marks and exam focussed. Even very reasonable classmates can be fired up and argumentative towards the lecturers at the test review lectures. Indeed, the questions are ambiguous, and there is really not only one single correct answer. But especially in health practice, how important is it to argue about the specific use of words in an exam questioning? Or how important is it, that you recieve an extra mark in your midsemester test, when it's worth like 5% of your total grade. In the end, exams are just a tool, or motivation factor, for us to think through and attempt to grasp these topics.

Last week at "uni". A little sad, and can't believe I won't be returning to this campus to study with this group of classmates. I'm always reluctant to face changes, but this time I feel it's more or less time to move on.

In the name of love

It's amazing how love can be twisted. It's amazing how twisted lust is.

In the name of love, David, the man after God's own heart, committed his greatest sin. He found Bathsheba beautiful, slept with her, and she became pregnant. David tried to cover what he had done by calling Bathsheba's husband back from war, and suggesting he should go home to lie with his wife. When that plan failed, David purposely sent him to the frontline of the battle, so that he would be killed. Then he took Bathsheba and married her. (2 Samuel chapter 11)

David's son Amnon fell in love with his beautiful half sister Tamar. He became "frustrated to the point of illness" that "she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her." He pretended to be ill and tricked her to come to him, then grabbed her against her will and slept with her. He then hated her with intense hatred, he hated her more than he had loved her. (2 Samuel chapter 13)

It takes a long and gradual process to see love for what it should be. The world suggests love is about an uncontrollable passion, a thirsting desire and overwhelming emotion. Do we admire a love so great that it will scheme and kill for love without consideration for anyone else? What about a boy and girl who love at first site and can't help but physically express their passion for each other? Unconsciously, are we pleased to see the married woman run away and be reunited with her childhood love? Are these not the heros and heroines we admire in movies, TV dramas and novels? Are these not the lives of our Shakespearean characters Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Desdemona?

In the name of love we sin and accept sin. But feelings and passions should be under the guidance of unselfishness, perserverance, self control and ultimately, holiness. Is that not what distinguishes love and lust?


Places do not lose their identity, however far one travels. It is the heart that begins to erode over time. - Joanne Harris (Chocolat)

Places begin to blur into each other. Perhaps that's the brain's way of organising memories, by attaching them to those that are already present.

The novelty factor is not there, if you've seen something similar already.

- The houses built on hills, same in Launceston, same in Hobart, same in Auckland and Christchurch.

- A cloud descended below a mountaintop, the same in Japan, the same on the drive away from Picton.

- Bare trees that look like bones without flesh, on the wild roadsides of South Island. The same grim yet beautiful scene in Wilson's prom.

- A lookout from high above, breathtaking the first time, then all the same thereafter. From high above each city: Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai, New York... become indistinguishable.

Moving rapidly through each site, you can only appreciate the place's aesthetic value. But a holiday is not about seeing places; rather, slowing down and doing something you don't usually do, take a break, have a walk, enjoy the company of those you're with, sleep in a comfortable hotel room and enjoy the local cuisine. That's my very lazy idea of a great, slow holiday. After all if it's by sight alone, just turn on your TV or flip through a travel booklet.

How difficult to satisfy and ungrateful we are! And having lived with my family day in day out for the last 10 days, I wanted nothing better than to sit back and enjoy a bit of quiet and time to organise what I need to do for uni. But now, I wish for nothing more than to be surrounded with people, because it's awfully quiet, awfully lonely.

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