June 27, 2016

Tai Wan Village, where we live is a small villiage that's on the South China Sea. We have a very shallow bay, so when the tide is out a lot of land shows! These phots were taken today. The bottom photo was taken when I was returning from my walk, coming down through our village.

It was in 1964, when I was 13 years of age, the last time a Cleveland professional sports team won a championship in any sport. Having grown up in the northern Ohio area, about an hour and a half from Cleveland, I've been a diehard fan of their sports teams for all these years.

Finally, today I'm relishing their historical victory over the Golden State Warriors, who this year had the best regular-season record in the history of the NBA. To be honest, after the first two games in which Cleveland got demolished, I figured we were in for another “wait until next year.”  That’s been a common saying of our sports teams! After four games Cleveland was down 3 games to 1. No team has ever come back from that deficit to win the championship in the NBA. However, somehow, Lebron and crew found a way to make history, winning two of the last three games at the arena where the Warriors play. This season Golden State set a record by winning 56 games in a row at home.

In the seven game playoff series, none of the first six games we're very close, but in the last game, game seven, it was a nail-biter to the end. Way to hang on Cavs! We don’t have to wait till next year now!

Otherwise, my week was fairly normal. The only extra activity I had was the World Refugee Day program on Saturday evening, which I attended. I didn’t have to do anything in the program, so just enjoyed the music, speakers. The program was sponsored by various charity organizations and churches, and sought to draw attention to the refugee problems facing our world. Hong Kong now hosts around 11,000 asylum-seekers and refugees. When we first started River Grace 2011, there were only around 6000.

In the past few months the there has been an increasing resentment among some Hong Kong people that they come here to use our resources. There is still a lot of biases against them, and there have even been calls to retain all of them in a closed camp.  

If the immigration had a more fair and quick way to process them, it would help immensely since some of them have been here for 10 plus years… basically in limbo, with nothing to do.

One of the speakers of the program, Jeffrey Andrews, of Christian Action, gave a testimonial of three refugees who have now been resettled in other countries. I suppose it was just a coincidence, but of the three he shared about,one attended our church nearly every week, and the other two had attended some of our special classes or activities that RiverGrace sponsored.

On the homefront in the States, Cindy has only 10 more days before she leaves to return to Hong Kong. This past weekend, she, Ace Becky and the children went camping. Fortunately they had beautiful weather for that, although I guess it was quite hot.

That’s the update for this week. Make it a great week!  Blessings, Dave


SERIOUS FODDER

Rivers and Waterfalls

     In his book River Out of Eden, Oxford scientist Richard Dawkins explains, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”(1) In a similar vein, Dawkins praises the humorous rejoinder of Douglas Adams to arguments that claim an apparent order and purpose in the universe: “To illustrate the vain conceit that the universe must be somehow preordained for us because we are so well suited to live in it, [Adams] mimed a wonderfully funny imitation of a puddle of water, fitting itself snugly into a depression in the ground, the depression uncannily being exactly the same shape as the puddle.”(2) Their claim is clear: Humanity has adapted to a blind and indifferent universe like water to the shape of its container. It is perhaps a claim that at times lingers suggestively in desolate places of life and mind.

     Ernest Gordon may, too, have at one time agreed. An officer of the British army during the Second World War, he was captured by the Japanese while at sea. At the age of 24, he was sent to work in the prison camp that would be constructing the Burma-Siam railroad.

     For every mile of track, 393 men are said to have died. Wearing nothing but loincloths, they worked for hours in scorching temperatures, chopping their way through tangled jungles. Those who paused out of exhaustion were beaten to death by guards. Treated like animals, the prisoners became themselves like beasts trying to survive. Adapting to their harsh captivity, theft was as rampant as disease among them. Gordon himself eventually became so weak from illness that he was removed from the common camp and placed in the Death House. He describes his purposeless existence in that cruel and indifferent setting: “I was a prisoner of war, lying among the dead, waiting for the bodies to be carried away so that I might have more room.”(3)

     Each night the Japanese guards would count the work tools before anyone was permitted to return to camp. One evening, when a shovel was found to be missing, a guard shouted relentlessly that the guilty man must present himself. When no one responded, he ordered callously, “All die! All die!” At this, a young man stepped forward, confessing to the theft, and was immediately killed before them.

     The railroad prison camp by the River Kwai was a place where many could have observed in horror that “the universe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no God watching over those in dire need of hope.” Like water conforming to the shape of its container, the captured men became like men fighting to survive, void of right and wrong, void of reverence for life, void of all meaning. Yet, amidst the stagnant waters of hatred and bitterness, something was astir.

     After the incident with the shovel, upon returning to the camp, one of the guards discovered a mistake in their counting. There had never been a missing shovel. The young man that stepped forward was innocent; he had sacrificed his life to preserve the lives of his fellow inmates. After this incident, attitudes among the camp began to change dramatically. Instead of men in a detached game of survival of the fittest, they began to look out for each other. One of the men remembered the words of Scripture: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Gordon, who once lay forgotten for dead, was slowly nursed back to health by fellow prisoners. Fully recovered, he eventually became the makeshift chaplain of the camp. When the prison was liberated in 1945—three years after his capture—Gordon entered seminary to become a minister of the message of Jesus Christ. “Faith thrives where there is no hope but God,” he later testified. How contrary to the words of Richard Dawkins.

     The transformation in the men of the prison was so thoroughly unlike the world they were forced to live in that one could argue it was more like a waterfall defying gravity and moving upstream than a puddle naturally fitting into the crevice that holds it. The sacrifice of one innocent man can indeed reverse the flow of history. And this kingdom the crucified one came to proclaim is among us, a spring of living water in a dry and weary land.

~ Jill Carattini is managing editor of a slice of infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 133.

(2) As printed in The Guardian, May 14, 2001.

(3) Ernest Gordon, To End All Wars (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963).

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GUFFAW FODDER

     Two small county judges both got arrested for speeding on the same day. Rather than call the state Supreme Court for a visiting judge, each agreed to hear the other's case. The first judge took the bench while the second stood at the defendant's table and admitted his guilt. The sentencing judge immediately suspended both the fine and costs. They switched places. The second judge admitted that he was speeding, too.

     Thereupon the first judge immediately fined him $250 and ordered him to pay court costs. The second judge was furious. "I suspended your fine and costs, but you threw the book at me!" he fumed. The first judge looked at him and replied, "This is the second such case we've had in here today. Someone has to get tough about all this speeding!"

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~~~~~

     This guy was waiting in the downtown L. A. bus station for the bus to Pasadena.  He spotted a machine with a sign that read: YOUR HEIGHT, YOUR WEIGHT, YOUR FORTUNE $1.00    He stepped on the scale and dropped a dollar bill in the slot. Out came a card that said: "You are 5 feet 10 inches tall. You weigh 160 pounds, and you are waiting for the bus to Pasadena.”

     This guy said, "How did that machine know that?  Well, I'll fool it."  He went downstairs to the men's room, rolled up his coat collar, pulled down the brim of his hat, and put on a fake beard. He tiptoed back up the stairs, sneaked along the wall, spun around and jumped on the scale and quickly placed another dollar in the slot.   Out came a card that read: "You are 5 feet 10 inches tall, you weigh 160 pounds, and while you were messing around down in the men's room, you missed the bus to Pasad Signs Seen on Church Bulletin Boards

1. Come work for the Lord.  The work is hard, the hours are long and the pay is low.  But the retirement benefits are out of this world

2. It is unlikely there'll be a reduction in the wages of sin.

3. Forbidden fruit creates many jams.

4. God is on high - get your lift tickets here.

5. Try our Sundays.  They are better than Baskin-Robbins.

6. Searching for a new look?  Have your faith lifted here.

7. Have trouble sleeping?  We have sermons - come hear one.

8. People are like tea bags - you have to put them in hot water before you know how strong they are.

9. Where will you be sitting in eternity - smoking or nonsmoking?

10. Does your faith need a tuneup or a complete overhaul?

~~~~~

WISDOM IN A FEW WORDS?

- Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

- Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

- No matter how much you nurse a grudge it won't get better.

- Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.

- The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.

~~~~~

     FIRST CHURCH MEMBER: I thought the sermon was divine.  It reminded me of the peace of God.  It passed all understanding.

     SECOND CHURCH MEMBER: It remained me of the mercies of God.  I thought it would  endure forever.

~~~~~

     A Texan wanted to go ice fishing.  He'd seen many books on the subject, and finally, after getting all the necessary "tools" together, he made for the nearest frozen lake.  After positioning his comfy footstool, he started to make a circular cut in the ice.

     Suddenly from the sky a voice boomed, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE!"  Startled, the Texan moved further down the ice, poured a Thermos of cappuccino, began to cut yet another hole. Again, from the heavens, the voice bellowed, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE!"  

     The Texan, now quite worried, moved way down to the opposite end of the ice, sat up his stool, and tried again to cut his hole.  The voice came once more: "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE!"

     He stopped, looked skyward, and said, " Is that you LORD?”

     The voice replied, "No, I'm the IceArena Manager!"