Tuesday, August 17, 2010


by Desert Rose

During the Raya holidays, I caught an interesting documentary on television. Two months before Princess Diana’s untimely death, she’d given permission for her gowns to be auctioned off and the proceeds given to charity. Each garment had been finely crafted and richly embellished - fit for royalty. The outfits sold for between USD 20K and USD 200k and followed their new owners to various parts of the world.
The documentary was an attempt to trace what had happened to these exquisite one-of-a-kind gowns.

It was interesting to see how the new owners saw their purchase as an extension of the popular princess. One woman hired a personal bodyguard for the dress which she would periodically show to the public. Another woman bought 3 dresses and displayed them in her shop window. In the week following her death, the grieving public left flowers and cards at the window turning it into a mini shrine to the late princess. A few of them would wear the dresses to feel closer to her. Almost all of them had connected with her emotionally and owning the dresses she had worn helped to make that nostalgia just a little more real.

Princess Di was a secular saint who was loved and cherished by all. She’s become an icon that’s unmatched by any member of royalty before and after her. Diana will always be the world’s best loved princess.

But since she died in that tragic car crash, all that’s left are the memories and keepsakes she left behind. While its interesting to read about what these women have done to keep her memory alive, it is also sad because none of them can bring her back. They are merely lingering shadows of a past reality.

During the days of King Hezekiah,
Israel had drifted far from God. Many ‘high places’ were built, images erected and sacrifices offered to them. One such ‘high place’ was a shrine built to a relic left behind from Moses’ days. A brazen snake mounted on a pole. Moses had commanded those who had been bitten by the poisonous snakes to look at it and they had been instantly healed! Apparently the brazen image had been preserved throughout the years and had finally ended up an object of worship. Nehustan was the name given to it.

The glory of the moment had long faded, Moses was dead but hundreds of years later, people regarded it with some reverence. Did they still believe in its ‘healing powers’ or did they simply want to crystallise a historical moment to remember how God had marvellously healed his people? The bible does not say.

But what it does tell us is God raised a godly king to purge the land from such images, ordering them to be torn down and destroyed. You can read the story in 2 Kings 18.

Throughout history, the Church has shared a similar reaction with the women who bought a ‘piece’ of Diana. Anything directly or indirectly associated with Jesus’ life became a valuable artefact. During Martin Luther’s day,
Rome boasted an impressive collection of bone fragments, limbs and hairs belonging to saints and martyrs. Pieces of the cross, John the Baptist’s skull and today, we have the Turin shroud, crying statues, bleeding hearts etc. Many have been safely enshrined in the continuing belief that such practices can bring us closer to God.

But can they?

Saint Jerome declared, "We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are" (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907).


Imagine asking someone for advice on how to improve your relationship with your lover. And the advice you get is, “You should frame a picture of his cat, have regular conversations with his dead relatives, save his nail-clippings and carry a photo of his best friend in your wallet.”

If Jesus came to remove the sin barrier that separates us from God, why does the church keep replacing it with more useless things? There is no lack of religious paraphernalia to keep us busy with religious activity and sadly this extends to even charismatic circles. Although her Protestant brothers will proudly say that they have no such traditions and images as the Catholic church, they are just as guilty of indulging in equally distracting religious activity. The Church at large has become so deprived that it is reverting back to practices it abandoned during periods of revival and reformation. Instead of feeding God’s people with the living word, pastors are throwing out scraps of human intellectualism from the pulpit! God’s people are starving for lack of spiritual nourishment. They keep their members busy with many 'good' and 'right' activities but deny them the 'one' thing that Mary settled for.

Jesus didn’t hand out souvenirs from his earthly life so we could better remember him by. Instead he gave of himself and when he had given all that he could give, he poured upon us his eternal spirit without measure. One that dwells in us and is close to us and will never leave us for all eternity. If Emmanuel (the name given to Jesus) means ‘God with us’, then the Holy Spirit is God in us!

When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his death, he gave them an interesting analogy.

You can read it in John 16.
16"In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me." 17Some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" 18They kept asking, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying."
19Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? 20I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

An expectant woman goes through many physical changes during her pregnancy. She feels the baby move and kick within her and that brings her much joy. She enjoys the way her husband and family fuss over her. But no pregnant woman wants to be pregnant forever! She dreams for the day when she will hold her baby in her arms. She longs to see him, touch him, kiss and cuddle him close to her heart. She knows she must suffer the pain of childbirth but all will be forgotten once the baby is safely born.

The disciples would sorrow over the separation that physical death will bring but the outcome will cause them to forget their sorrow. The physical Jesus has to make way for the Spirit of Jesus who will dwell in them! Isn't that amazing? The mother witnesses the invisible becoming visible with the miracle of birth. But in God's kingdom, the visible makes way for the invisible!

On that day, they can go direct to Father God as Jesus did and they won't need any translators for the job!

No need for rabbit’s feet or lucky horse shoes. There’s no place for Christian mediums in the
Kingdom of God’s son.

If someone had said to the apostle Paul, “Let us immortalise these handkerchiefs (Acts 19)you used to heal the sick, so people can have a sense of closeness with you and indirectly with the Jesus you preach!” How do you think Paul would have responded? If the early apostles wanted to, they could have amassed a variety of Jesus collectibles ... crown of thorns, the purple robe, hairs from the donkey he rode, his breakfast mug etc. (Jesus didn’t really have a lot of material possessions, did he?)

But why would they do that when they had walked with the Bread of Life? The Light of the World. The Living Water. The Word that became alive and walked among men.

Why indeed!

If you could have an audience with King Jesus, would you ask him for a signed autograph? Pose for a group photo with him? Flick his sandals when he wasn’t looking and sell it on e-bay? Ask if you could add him on Facebook? Invite him to give the opening address in the ‘Evangelize your community’ conference?

I don’t know about you, but I know what I would do. I would take hold of him, and beg him to take me with Him wherever he goes.

The world had an audience with the living, breathing Christ more than 2,000 years ago. But the religious community decided he had outstayed his welcome and put him to death. His true disciples were devastated but Jesus promised them, “I will be with you till the end of the world”. His disciples believed his words and accordingly received his promise by the mighty outpouring of His spirit on the day of Pentecost. Natural limitations gave way to a Spiritual explosion and the world has not seen the end of it!

Why settle for anything less?
If you haven’t got the slightest idea of what I’m talking about, it isn’t too late. Ask with the faith and honesty of a child. Seek with the desperation of a man who hasn’t eaten in days! Knock with the impatience of a man who has been unjustly wronged!

This is not the usual, safe, run-of-the-mill ‘Sinner’s prayer’ that you’ re accustomed to. Pray this at your own risk!

“God, I am SO sick of church. I am so tired of religion. I am so fed up of tithing, praying, fasting, fellowshipping, serving and evangelising and still not tasting the eternal life you promised. I can’t keep up the charade anymore! I can no longer keep it together. Nothing is working. The leaders are not helping. Everybody does what they think is right. My theology is so air-tight, it’s choking me! It can’t give me the answers i seek.

I’m not going to pretend everything is ok, when it’s not. I don’t want to keep defending what I don’t believe in anymore. I’m done playing the hypocrite. I don’t care what people think. I don’t care about my ministry. I don’t care about my reputation. All I care is what you have to say.

Enlighten my eyes, so I can see. Open my ears, so I can hear. Loosen my tongue so I may sing the praises of the one who loved me and died for me!

Holy Spirit, fill me. Not just a drop, not a trickle but let the fullness of Him who fills all things flood my soul!”

Friend, if you get real with God, He’s going to get real with you! And I mean a relationship that you never dreamed possible. You will hear his voice speaking personally to you. (You don’t have to imagine what he’d say!). When you read the bible, it’s going to be in 3-D colour! (You will wonder why you didn’t see it before!). You won’t need another human being to tell you what to believe. (Jesus will be the only pastor you’ll ever need!)

I must warn you though of other 'side effects' you can expect.

You will discover who your true friends are. You will have trouble fitting in with the usual Christian crowd. You will never see ‘church’ or ‘ministry’ in the same way you did before; which means you won’t flow with the agenda of the organized church. You won’t care about material possessions or earthly promotions. You will find the unlovely and lonely worthy of God's love. You will develop a love and passion for Truth. You will love Righteousness and hate Evil which won't sit well for people who love the safety of Compromise. You will give cheerfully and generously from whatever little you have and still feel rich!

I could go on. But your experience is infinitely more valuable than any explanation I can give here.

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

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