Thank you

Thank you dear friend for reading my blog. I will be happy and honoured if you can add your precious comment, respecting the freedom of thought, of speech, of religion and of belief. God bless you!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

An Intertwined Faith, in the Babel Family

This past February, I was traveling to Erbil & Duhok in Northern Iraq on our second mission trip, trying to reach out to people in need in the refugees' camps there. During my flight, I paged through the airline's elegant in-flight magazine to check their suggested audio musical programing. I was surprised that this particular airline's magazine, known for reflecting its culture and well acquainted with many forms of Middle Eastern Music, is now featuring only one album reflective of Middle Eastern Music; a Sami Yusuf album (an Islamic Singer).

As a relatively well known Arabic Christian singer, this might have easily caused me to become envious or desirous to defend what I stand for, or to feel threatened about misrepresentation. But to be honest, I do not consider my music, even though balanced between the traditional & the contemporary/fusion style of Christian music, as the only source of Middle Eastern Music, neither in its subjects nor in its style. How downgrading to our Middle Eastern musical traditions to narrow many civilisations to only one source. So, out of concern, I am sharing these ideas with you. I think we are facing a situation today where certain Middle Eastern cultures have become hostile towards one another, and as a result, the uniqueness of each culture, style of music, etc... is becoming lost. Instead, the strongest, or what is perceived by some to be the most "mainstream" type is allowed to speak, inaccurately, for the whole. What is the most effective way to convince a respectable airline, and others with a similar mindset, that Arabic doesn’t mean Muslim, and Islamic Music is not the only Arabic Music, or on a larger scale the only Middle Eastern Music? The sad fact is that our rich musical heritage is threatened by commercial ignorance and blind marketing, as well as by various geopolitical wars happening now. One certainly has to question the motivation for these wars. Are they just, or just strong marketing plans allowing cultural truths and historical facts to be swallowed?
Under the broad categories of Arabic, Turkish, Persian Renaissance, Neo-Classical, Oriental Christian, Jewish and Judeo-Arabic and Koranic music traditions are rich musical legacies and hundreds of brilliant minds and talents that support this diversity.

Jean During, in one of his articles, said “a forgotten or an abandoned melody can never be rediscovered or restored, it rejoins the silence for good". It is fulfilling to come from a part of the Middle East where oral tradition has kept a rich portion of its secular and sacred music alive. Furthermore, many of our professional musicians, academic teachers, researchers, musicologists & ethnomusicologists have set the path in front of us to allow us to continue to find resources to better understand our ancestors. Their groundwork has allowed us to build on the past and project new musical creations in a healthy, contemporary future.

Christian Music reflects "An Intertwined Faith, in the Babel Family."  This is a title I chose for a series of lectures I am presenting at "Tufts" & "William and Mary” Universities and for some intensive workshops for Chaldean & Syriac choirs in the summer, and suggests that Christian music had a single point of origin, but as Christianity spread across multiple languages and cultures, each language and culture developed it's own unique variations and interpretations using that common place of origin as a starting point. These lectures will cover the Christian Music of the Middle East, where we will explore the Syriac, Assyrian, Chaldean, Maronite, Coptic, Byzantine and Evangelical church music heritages, as well as Messianic Jewish Music from Cyprus. These lectures will also attempt to share with students from ethnomusicology departments, musicians and choristers, a glimpse of the beauty and richness that these musical forms have to offer. They are also an investment in promoting and preserving, at least scholarly, what is commercially out of favour. To finish this note, I truly wish that during my next trip, since it is now lent for all Oriental churches, I will hear some of Fairouz's Passion Songs played by the airline.  After all, they are equally representative of music from the Middle East.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Maranatha مرانتاه


«لِـيَكُنِ إِسْمُ اللهِ مُبارَكا مِنَ الأزَلِ وإلى الأبدِ. فلَهُ الحكمَةُ والجَبَروتُ، وهوَ الّذي يُغَيِّرُ الأوقاتَ والأزمِنَةَ ويَعزِلُ المُلوكَ ويُقيمُهُم ويهَبُ الحكمَةَ للحُكَماءِ والمعرِفَةَ للفُهَماءِ. هوَ الّذي يكشِفُ الأعماقَ والخفايا، ويَعلَمُ ما في الظُّلمَةِ، وعِندَهُ يُضيءُ النُّورُ." دنيال ٢: ٢٠-٢٢.
إن النور للخالق ومنه خرج، ولكلّ من يؤمن به له أن يعيش في ملئه، إذ "ومن ملئه أخذنا جميعنا نعمة فوق نعمة" يو ١: ١٦، والظلمة لمن استعمل حريته فرصة للجسد، ولكنه رغم خياره الحر، سيبقى في حضرة الله وتحت نظره!
فيما نحن على حدود اللا حدود، وانتظار المجهول كبشر، طبيعيّ أن نتأثر ببيئتنا والأحداث التي نعيشها، فنحن أولاد مجتمعاتنا في جماليّاتها وضعفاتها. فما أجمل أن نعي انتماءنا لتراب هذا الشرق الذي خرجنا منه وإليه نعود، ولكن الأروع هو أن نصنع التاريخ ما بين البعث والعودة. تاريخ ملؤه إيمان ومسؤوليّة وثمار تفوح منها رائحة المسيح الزكيّة دونما انتفاخ وكبرياء بل بتواضع الروح، عالمين أننا "كلنا قد أخطأنا وأعوزنا مجد الله" رو ٣: ٢٣، وبمجد ذلك النور فقط الذي أظهره في المسيح، لنا أن نشهد عنه كأبناء عاينوا واختبروا سرّ محبّته، ليس لبرّ عملناه، بل بمقتضى هذه المحبّة الغير مشروطة وأمانته الثابتة! 
اليوم وبرغم تغيير الظروف وتقلـّباتها، لنا إله لا يتغيّر... برغم شموخنا وانحنائنا، لنا أب لا يتبدّل... برغم الشرّ وتسلـّطه، لنا شفيع لدى الله وجالس عن يمينه يرثي لضعفاتنا وقد غلب العالم...
هنيئاً لنا بمسيح يترك سلاماً في القلب، ويريح المتعب وثقيل الأحمال، ويخلص الروح من المهْلِك. إن لم تختبر لك الخيار، وإن فعلت، صلِّ معنا: مرانتاه، تعال أيها الرب يسوع.

"May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him." Daniel 2: 20-22
The light belongs to the Creator, and is sent by Him. Everyone who beliefs in the Light can live in His fulness, as it is written "And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." Jn 1:16, and the darkness for who uses his freewill as an occasion for the flesh. Even though, with our freewill to choose Him or not, we're all within His presence, and under His sight!
In a time where we stand on no border awaiting for the unknown, as human, it's natural that we can be influenced by our environmental circumstances. At the end, we are children of our societies with all their advantages and weaknesses. It's precious to remind ourselves that we belong to the Holy land in the Middle East, and we were made from its soil. But the best is to make History between the bloom and the faint of ourselves! A History that is full of faith, responsibility and fruits that smell Jesus' scent, without self bulge & pride, knowing that "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Rom. 3:23. In the glory of that light only that was shown in Christ, we can testify for Him as children who have seen and experienced His love, not because of our sanctity but because of His unconditional love and constant faithfulness.
Today, with unstable circumstances, we have an unchangeable God. With all our ups and downs, we have a faithful father. Despite the evil powers, we have an advocate with the Father who intercedes for our transgressions, and has defeated the world...

We're blessed to have a Christ that plants peace into heart, and rest "all that labour and are heavy laden" Mat. 11: 28, and saves the soul from the waster. If someone didn't experience, he always has the choice; And if he did, let this be our prayer: Maranatha, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Rev. 22:20

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Going Global Getting Gobbled

Going Global, Getting Gobbled

When I started this post, I was thinking about an appropriate title for it. A number of ideas came to mind, most of them sarcastic! As I am determined to be taken seriously, I've chosen "Going Global, Getting Gobbled" with 4Gs, a title that keeps me up-to-date, but will probably condemn me in arrears next year! Nonetheless, this content will hopefully stay fresh for the next generation!


In 1785, James Madison wrote a bold statement in his "Memorial and Remonstrance" that we should take to heart with renewed seriousness: "We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties". While we still struggle with the relativity of right and wrong, the human conscience is not delusional, or else, cannibalism would still be legal in some villages of the Nagaland in India or elsewhere in the world.  We all acknowledge that there is common sense in our human nature, allowing us to refrain from certain activities that are condemned by conscience, laws, religion or culture. What about freedom? Is it the natural call of humans to be free? Though the liberty of the person is a human right, the pursuit of it can become hostile when it is concretised into action, even in Western Societies, where respecting and preserving freedom is constitutional. 

Before diving in further, let me ask some questions that may be coming to mind: Is freedom incited by having more choices? Are we more free when we do whatever we want to do? Are various types of freedom, such as freedom of belief, choice or action the same? Do they involve the same kind of freedom? Just simple questions that could engage our intellect for future blogs...

Commonly held "rights" or "freedoms" in many cultures, such as the right to abort, to have sex with whomever we wish, whenever we wish, and the right to divorce are, at their core, false freedoms.  But in many countries and cultures, the media and certain activists groups hold these "rights" sacred and work tirelessly to preserve them. As a result, we are bombarded with constant and consistent messages that these "rights" are essential elements of what constitutes ultimate freedom as human beings. We need to carefully analyse these messages and determine if they are acceptable for human consumption! As it is perfectly said in Milan Kundera’s Immortality: “…a kind of energy that turns all human desires into rights…”. While encroaching freedom that is designed to set free, we’re witnessing a massive "matraquage" of other free-idioms, kind of brain washing promotions;
It is always faster to download data than to upload it. It’s much slower to describe your need to a customer service representative and be heard before digesting all of the information they want you to hear! It’s faster to receive information through advertising or audiovisual media than to promote one's own thoughts, opinions or insights. As scripture states, in the last days, knowledge will be common (2 Tim. 3: 7). Why is the world better at receiving and not nearly as good at giving?  If you ask people about this question, especially in the Americas, they simply reply with this slogan: “It is what it is…” because they are not sure how to respond, or may not have thought critically about a response. But truly aren’t we living in a world that is unidirectionally guided, a world that is pioneer in putting forth the idea of communication and the first to misuse it?

"Gavaged"

When I was in school 16 years ago studying agriculture, one of the worse practices I remember learning about was the gavage. This practice involves force feeding ducks a rich diet in order to harvest and enjoy their “foie gras” (fat liver).  It is a kind of forced feeding that some animal cruelty activists in California and elsewhere would like to outlaw due to it's cruelty. It is never wrong to force a diet on a person or an animal for good cause. The reasoning for doing it is obviously very important. The Gavage is a process where ducks are forced fed extremely large quantities of grain with a feeding tube in their beak, to the point that, if you were present to witness the feeding, you could hear grain rattling down into the ducks' bellies from 100 feet away!  Your first reaction would likely be to want to rescue these poor animals from human cruelty. But don’t you think that today, the same kind of force-feeding is hitting our societies, our children, our consciences and our sub-consciences without any filter?! We have truly become a global human farm where media gavaging has become our mainstay and the farm owners are the global media (GM). Sadly, the few who run the large, media corporations wield great power and are able to dictate what they feel all should embrace in terms of beliefs, attitudes and opinions. There is little room for free thought since they are able to project almost every life aspect virtually.  There is also little room for spiritual belief.  Instead, they are promoting the might of human development and achievement as the solution for humankind. Their god is their media, not their stomach, as Paul describes in the book of Philippians (3:19).  But similar to the concerns Paul expresses in Philippians, the mind of the media is set on earthly things.

Freedom of Action

To be more practical, this is a sample of how GM have led us to the gavage, where instead of cherishing our free moments with loved ones, we project our emotions, aspirations, and minute by minute events and activities virtually on social and other forms of media. Is this guided by our free will? Differently said, instead of enjoying  nature and panorama, we prefer to capture it with our camera lens and post it somewhere, sometimes not enjoying the trip and accomplishing the initial goal of it. Likewise, saying happy birthday to our children, spouses and friends over social media, instead of creating real life good memories of it, or being more concerned about capturing the perfect Instagram of our social events makes us virtual and potentially fake, disingenuous or worse. Last weekend, I was invited to a friend’s wedding. I had to laugh when I saw an invited beautiful lady snapping pictures throughout the wedding with her big iPad connected to her face, dangling the cover so as to block the view of others. I couldn’t understand how "PadFace" lady really enjoyed and preferred to see the whole wedding from her screen instead of cherishing her friends’ union in real life. Do we truly think that living life through social media makes us more "hip." Social and civic media certainly have their places and are of great help to check on far away friends and family, and connect with dear ones all over the globe, but at the same time, I don’t understand how sharing a photo of today’s lunch could be of any improvement for humanity. And on the top of that, we think that we are making our own free choices when we post in social media, not realising that we are losing perspective on the richness of the event itself.

Freedom of the body

The GM promotes many false ideas and we’ve been gavaged gladly without questioning. The world has promoted, for five decades now, the idea that "falling in love” means that one should be "making love." Contrary to this, I have personally witnessed that true love kept me more vertical than any ephemeral attempted emotion of a “masked” love I’ve ever experienced! The world, through Hollywood, Bollywood and now “Globallywood” encourages “making love” as soon as you feel hormones kicking in.  To them, the "right" time is when you personally decide it is right, whereas most of us humans at different life stages have experienced how true love can really make us what we ought to be and restore our image to God’s likeness. “Making love” is not wrong, but the media has devalued the beauty of this action by tacky choices, stretching its core beyond its predesigned frame and ripping it into pieces that distort the beauty of God's artful design! In other words, allowing the liberty of the body under the title "Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Action and Belief" is very misleading and at the same time really costly to the extent that it is ripping off our societies, destroying families, breaking human hearts and self image, killing foetuses, encouraging violence, and the list goes on and on. Moreover, enforcing laws of such "freedom" in so-called free countries is an absolute threat to the uniqueness of a person. Let me develop this further below.

Conformity over Unity?

Being united by our humanity on this planet can never make us cookie cutter or prototyped beings. The world today more than ever is stressing a new, global tolerance. “We should embrace our differences” a common saying that is very true, though “respecting our liberties”  should definitely be added to this slogan, as we are experiencing how tolerance is encouraged among freedom of speech on one hand, and the commonness of secularism is enforced and sometimes imposed upon privatised freedom of belief on another hand. We are living in a world that is encouraging tolerance of all beliefs, but the media is mandating specifics! While you are tolerating but not adopting other’s beliefs, this same world accuses you of non acceptance and on the same "freedom of belief" basis, the system charges you of transgressing this freedom. In today’s worldview, we hear a lot that “every human being is a variation of yourself." While we’ve been taught that God has created us unique, and in His own image and likeness, I think we should reconsider a serious call for unity over another call “à la mode" for conformity! Jesus once said you know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." I have always been convinced that relative truth will set a relative freedom, but pursuing the ultimate truth in Christ will result in true freedom of the being. This is my humble Christian opinion, and I hope it will pass through the readers' sights without being judged, or transgressed. After all, we’re invited to embrace and express our differences!

In the end, my fear is that we are heading toward a global holocaust breathing intolerance which the media presents as a benign, tolerable gas. And we have been gavaged by uni-directed idioms leading to our self destruction, and numbed and euthanised by the subtlety of those media messages. Our minds are already so manipulated and downcast by GM, that many are truly deprived of personal perspectives.  Maybe some of us may think that we've been indoctrinated, or using the same verb, gavaged by Christian faith, from influences from our past, our parents and our societies.  But, today more than ever, we're witnessing a free will choice to let go of this same faith by hundreds. Moreover, thousands are practicing Christianity by tradition without beliefs or the bearing of spiritual fruit in faithful lives.


But parallel to this, aren't we witnessing today the same force feeding or indoctrination of secularism? And somehow, we're not allowed to choose to adopt or flee the system by choice? Being a true Christian is being threatened by laws in so-called Christian countries like the USA. I always think that the validation of a system can be proved or validated by its tangible effect on someone's life. And in the Christian faith and life of Christians, Jesus, by His and our free choice, changes the essence of our human nature, tracing a better human being, and touching and redeeming all areas of our life. We know that Christians are not perfect human beings.  But, they work hard by motives and belief to meet their Master’s standards. It's not surprising that Gandhi would say: “Give me your Christ, and take your Christianity" given that we all fall short of God's glory and intended purposes for us.  But take it easy on us, because God is working on us as we dwelt on this earth, within tainted systems which may provide temporary comfort and relief, but never sate the most profound existential hunger of the soul.  The proof is crystal clear if we consider and observe the fruits of our post modern society (some of those unspiritual fruits are mentioned above). From birth we have been doomed by our “non-Christian" actions and a bloody history defying what Jesus teaches.  This has been true from the time of the first sin, and in our times, we continue to witness a bloody twentieth century led by secularists and secular regimes. If we read the last century's history, the number of exterminated people is far larger than the losses related to all human wars combined.  But, Jesus said, "I came for you to have life, and have it abundantly."  If we want to be life spreaders, let us work hard to communicate the Ultimate Truth so that with us others may experience true freedom of being. For "whom the Son set free is free indeed!"  And let us embrace our differences while respecting our liberties.

أسامحك... أحبّك!

 يا أخي في الإنسانيّة، يا من تخدم سيّد هذا العالم، يا حبيبي في المسيح، ويا داعشيّ الملـّة...

يا أخي في الإنسانيّة… عيّرتني بالـنـون وبرسمها هجرتني، لم ترَ أنّ النون إنـّما هي نونٌ أنت، ونونٌ أنا، وواءُ المعيّة تربطنا في الإنسانيّة! لم أعرف أنّ الإنسان يمشي على رجل واحدة، ويصفـّق باليد والواحدة، ويرى بعين، وأحاديّ السمع. لم أعتد رؤية لون واحد في هذه الحياة، ولم أتخيّل دنياي من دون التنوّع. أين الآخَر منك؟ أين أخاك المختلف عنك؟ أين اختلاف الرجل من المرأة؟ أين اختلاف الطفل من البالغ؟ أين اختلاف العائلة من الأخرى؟ أين اختلاف النهار من الليل؟ أين اختلاف الصيف من الشتاء؟ كيف أقنعك الشيطان بأن تعيش من دون اختلاف؟ ومن أين لك يا أعجميّ العُرب أن تخلط الاختلاف مع الخلاف؟
أؤمن بالله الذي بذل نفسه من أجلي ليربحني له إبناً، ولم أعرف إلهاً يبذلُ الناس لأجل نفسه ليربح الموت ويجني الظلم والذل. دُعِيتُ وشعبي مسيحيين أولاً، وها أنت تصرّ على تغيير اسمي وانتمائي. ألأنك لا تحتمل إلهاً مسيحاً مخلـّصاً بذل نفسه عن أحبائه وشعبه؟ أم لأنك لا ترضى أن يتجسد الله في إنسان أصلا، ولكنك في كتابك ترضى بأن يتجسّد الشيطان في ثعبان… ألعلّ شيطانك أقدر من إلهك، ولهذا سمحت للشرّ بسكناك يا أخي الإنسان؟ أنا لست بـ نصراني ولست بـ نـُصَيْري... أنا أتبع يسوع الناصري المخلص والمعطي الحياة لكل من يسأله! جرّدت من نعتـّهم بالنون من رقعة أرض، ولكنك لم تـتـنبـّه أنك لا تستطيع أن تجرّد الإنسان من النون، وإلا لأصبح ا-سا-… أسى!

يا من تخدم سيّد هذا العالم… علـّمنا كتابنا أنّ سيّد العالم هو الشيطان. إن تهجيرك ليس بجديد، ولا طرقك أحدث ممّن سبقوك، أنت فقط نسخة أخرى من تلك الشيطان الذي بايعته النفوس الضعيفة أجسادها. نبكي على أنفسنا نتيجة الألم الحاضر والزمني، ولكننا نفرح بالشهادة لربحنا إكليل الحياة. لكننا بالأحرى، نبكي عليك أيها الخادم المأمور إذ تخدم السيّد الخطأ. فنحن اعتدنا التهجير والتنكيل والاضطهاد من لحظة اعتناقنا الإيمان المسيحيّ وعبر كلّ العصور والعهود. فمن تهجير المسيحيين في المغرب العربي إلى موريتانيا، إلى مصر والجبل الأخضر والساحل في ليبيا، إلى السودان وتركيا وايران مروراً في فلسطين والأردنّ وسوريا والعراق وحتى لبنان! وكم نعاني اليوم من الاضطهاد الفكري للمسيحيين في أوروبا وأميركا والصين والهند وغيرها. وكم عانينا من ماضٍ أسود اضطهدنا مسيحنا بأنفسنا في حروب ادّعت الصليبيّة وأساءت استخدام اسم يسوع المسيح وتعاليمه… هو القائل: "في العالم سيكون لكم ضيق ولكن ثقوا أنا قد غلبت العالم”. فأين شوكتك يا موت، وأين غلبتك يا هاوية؟ فنحن منتصرون في الذي أحبنا وبذل نفسه لأجلنا. فأنت مغلوب، ولكنك لست بمغلوب على أمره، ما زال لديك خطّ عودة، وما زلنا نحلم أن نراك في الفردوس يوم نلتقي بإلهنا يوم الدينونة. ذلك لا باستحقاقنا، ولا من قبيل افتخار الإيمان أو بـبـِرّ ذاتي، ولا بكبرياء المعرفة، فما زلنا نعلم بعض العلم، وننتظر أن يأتي الكامل وينقض البعض، إذ نحن خطاة وانتـُشِلنا من ماضينا. ولكننا برحمته اللا متناهية نحلم أن نلقى السماء مصير، والأبدية في حضرة الله مستقبل! نعم أنت الذي صلبت وقتلت الأخ والأخت، الأم والأب، الجدّ والجدّة، فجرت بناء كنيستنا، خطفت وقتلت قسسنا ورهباننا. نصلي أن تتوب، وتؤمن بالذي تمّم كلّ شيء من أجلنا كلنا، نرجوك أن تتـُبْ وتؤمنْ.

يا حبيبنا في المسيح… فمخلـّصنا علـّمنا أن نحبّ عدوّنا، أن نبارك لاعِنَنا، أن نحسن إلى المسيئ إلينا، كيف لا وأنت يا مضطهدنا جاهل البعد، وقصير النظر. شهوتك دافعك، وسيفك محبسك، وتطرّفك سجنك. ترتشف الدماء فيزيدك ظمأ، تنتظر حوريّاتك وأنهار الخمور فتتمنطق الظلم والقتل، علـّك تروي عنجهيّة قِصَر المعرفة!
يا أبديّة الله ألعلـّكِ أكثر فسقاً من الأرض ولم نعرف؟ أوترضى يا ربّ النجاسة في سماك وأنت القدّوس؟ حاشاك يا قدير فأنت أسمى وأرقى وأقدس من أن توضع في جملة واحدة مع هذه الصفات. آمنـّا بك وعرفنا أنك الإله الحيّ، الأحَد، الصمد، الذي لا غش فيك ولا ظلّ دوران. فبَعْد نظرتنا للقدوس الذي يدعونا أن نكون قدّيسين لنشبهه هو الخالق، الذي صوّرنا على شبهه كمثاله، لا نستطيع إلا أن نصلي لك يا مضطهدنا، لكي تعرف إله الحب والرحمة، تختبر إله العطف والحكمة، الآب السماويّ الخالق الكلّ بكلمته، الذي به وله كلّ الأشياء. لذا نحبّك، ونقول لك أنّ حبّنا من حبّ إلهنا والحبّ يشفي. نصلـّي لك أن تعرف الحق، لتتحرّر به. فالحق له اسم؛ يسوع المسيح.

يا داعشيّ الملـّة… لا النون ولا كلّ الأحرف ستغيّر من نحن. فنحن أيضاً خطأة وضعيفون مثلك، ولكننا أقوياء ومؤمنين بالذي منحنا الحياة وخلـّصنا بصليبه، إذ هو جابلنا، ومن هذا المنبر نقول لك في المسيح: نسامحك، ونحبّك

Friday, June 20, 2014

Love... the bottom line!

Loving people is hard. That is really the bottom line. Truly loving people is not an easy task. Especially the more we get to know them. The more we know people and open up with one another the greater the chances for disagreement, hurt feelings, betrayal, and disappointment. We are all sinful after all. We are broken. And even as Jesus is healing us we still have propensities to harm each other.
So we have this call to love people well. It is a prominent theme throughout the Bible. And it isn’t the pseudo kind of love. It’s not all pats on the back and words of affirmation. It’s a commitment to living life together and helping one another—spurring one another on—to become healthy God followers.
So how do we love well without becoming judgmental of others? This is such a critical question. That’s my own opinion of course. But I see it as critical because I see us doing such a poor job of it. At least most of us.
The majority of people tend to fall too far to one side or the other. We either are too quick to judge, too quick to come to conclusions about another person. Or in the interest of keeping the peace, we don’t address any of their behavior. Where is the balance?
We are called to live in community with others. Relationship is central to the faith of following Jesus. So when dealing with other people how do we discern the difference? When is it judging and when is it not?
I’m turning to Jesus’ words in Luke 6 for some clarity and guidance.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:36-38
Jesus calls us not to judge, but notice the language that surrounds that sentence. Before it: Be merciful. After it: Do not condemn and forgive. It seems like the issue is on our focus. The problem of judging is a problem of our focus when someone else acts wrongly. What are we focusing on, the person, or the act?
“Be merciful…” That’s a call to be merciful to the person. We aren’t being called to act mercifully towards an act. We can’t be merciful to the act of stealing or lying or murder, but we can be merciful to the person who steals, lies, or commits murder.
“Do not condemn…” Again, this is about the person. The actions that we should deem as sin in another would be actions God has already condemned. The Bible has already called stealing, lying, and murder sin. We are not needed in that role of deciding whether or not they are wrong! That’s already been determined.
Forgive. We are being called to forgive the person who steals, lies, or murders (these are obviously not the only sins, I’m just trying to stick with these three as examples). We aren’t being called on to forgive the lie, for example. The lie is an inanimate thing that was put out there by a person. It is the person who needs forgiving. It is our relationship with that person that needs restoration.
Ultimately, the call to not judge is as a substitute for being merciful, not condemning, or with-holding forgiveness. It’s a focus on the person. I really despise the saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Primarily because I feel like people who don’t seem to love others well at all, seem to throw that phrase around and use it as a license to be anything but loving to select groups of sinners they feel comfortable with condemning. Admittedly, that’s probably not a totally fair statement for me to make, but it feels true more often than not in my experience...
The reality is, however, that a distinction does have to be made between a persons value and heart and the actions they have committed. Not a separation, but a distinction!.
Jesus has much more to say in Luke 6 that we should consider. Especially about “fruit” and good people or bad people. But for today I am carrying this idea around with me: When people act in ways that are clearly sin, how do I treat the person? Mercifully, without condemning that person, with forgiveness? Or do I treat them in some other way? Am I simply judging them?
And how do I reject a person’s actions and call those actions sin without condemning the person unmercifully? Without acting in an unforgiving manner?

http://soulgrit.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/judging-people/
By JMWork

A glimpse of a thought, not to judge!
I’m trying to love unconditionally like my master did to me!
I drop the idea of “not expecting anything from people”, because Jesus is expecting things from me. After all, we have to expect. I think the least I can expect at all times is honesty and transparency.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Easter 2013

إخوتي، ونحن نستذكـر ونحتفل بالمسيح القائم من الموت من ألفي عام، وهو الذي انتصر على موت لا ينتظر تقويمًا زمنيًّا كي يبعث في أجسادنا حياة لا موت فيها! "صادقة هي الكلمة أنه إن كنا قد متنا معه فسنحيا أيضا معه. إن كنا نصبر فسنملك أيضا معه…" ٢ تيم. ٢: ١١-١٢.
إن قال الناس أننا نعكس ما نملك، نرى مسيحنا يقول بأننا نعكس ما يملكنا. لقد كنت أتأمـّل في نص لقاء يسوع مع تلميذي عماوس (لوقا ٢٤: ١٣- ٣٥) حيث كانا يعكسان الخوف الذي كان يملكهما، وكيف حوّله المسيح إلى فرح القيامة.
١- ونرى سبب لقاء يسوع مع هذين التلميذين هو السبب نفسه الذي يريد المسيح لقاء كلّ إنسان لم يشهد قيامته بالعيان. فكما كانا التلميذان ماشيان يتكلمان عن يسوع، سرعان ما أصبحا يتكلمان مع يسوع. فنراه يضع على عاتقنا مسؤوليّة الكلام عنه مع الناس حتى يتوصـّلوا إلى الكلام معه شخصيّا. وأعتقد أننا بعضنا اختبر أنّ الكلام مع المسيح يؤثـّر أكثر في حياتنا من الكلام عنه… فحياةٌ في الصلاة إلى الله تـُبقي الله في صُلب هذه الحياة.
٢- وهذا يقودنا إلى الأمر الثاني الذي به يسوع (آية ١٥) أخذ هو المبادرة وتقدّم إليهما ثم سألهما عن أمر يعرفه، ولكنه ترك لهما الكلام وأخذ بالإصغاء. فالله في المسيحيّة هو الذي يسعى إلى الإنسان ويجذبه إليه، وهنا تكمن روعة الإيمان بإله يحنو علينا بحبّ غير مشروط، وأمانته ثابتة إلى الأبد. لذا هو يعلـّمنا أن في الكلام عنه، يجب أن نقوم بالمبادرة ونصغي إلى حاجة الآخر لنقدّم المسيح عروسًا للقلب.
٣- لقد حوّل يسوع نظر التلميذين إليه من خلال شرح الكتب والنبوّات، وهذا ما نحتاج إلى إظهاره كلما تكلـّمنا عن مسيحنا. من هنا، إذا كانت نظرتنا عن المسيح مغشاة، يستحيل عندها على آخر رؤيته من خلال شهادتنا. لذا لا بدّ أن نتسلـّح بالمكتوب (أي الكتاب المقدّس) كي نحوّل النظر من الاقناع بالحقيقة إلى معرفة الحقيقة والتعاطي معها بالفكر والقلب. لأنه حتى وإن قدّمنا المعلومات اللازمة، يبقى ربّنا -أي الحقيقة- هو الذي يجترح التغيير في القلب.
٤- أمـّا عظمة ربّنا تظهر في آخر هذا اللقاء، عندما ترك للتلميذين الحرية باختياره (الآية ٢٨) فآمنا به باستقلاليّة. وهنا نتعلـّم من المسيح ألا نفرضه أو نفرض أفكارنا أو إيماننا على الآخرين. من هنا علينا تقديم الحقيقة كما هي، ونترك الله يعمل في السامع، ونثق بإيمان بما هو مكتوب: " هكذا تكون كلمتي التي تخرج من فمي. لا ترجع إليّ فارغة، بل تعمل ما سُررت به وتنجح في ما أرسلتها له" أشعياء ٥٥: ١١

Hommage to Wadih Safi

تحيّة إكبار ووفاء لمن لحّن وغنـّى التحيّة… وديع الصافي!
غنيت الحياة والحب والوطن والموت… فأعطتك الحياة ملىء الصوت وعبقريّة اللحن وحنكة الأداء، وأهداك الحب قلوبنا، عرباً مشرقيين ومغربيين، وجايَرَك الوطن أرزه وجباله، واكتنفك الموت فاتحاً لك باب السماء وأبديّة الحياة… هنيئاً لك يا وديع الروح ويا صافي القلب أن تلتقي وتغني بحضرة "معطي المواهب". كنت أميناً على الكثير والرب أعطاك الكثير، وكما "من ملئه أخذنا جميعنا نعمة فوق نعمة" يو ١، من فنـّك غرفنا جميعنا نغمة بعد نغمة. زيّنت الأغنية العربيّة بالرقي، وغنـّيتها بإعجاز، وقدّمتها بتفاني، وخيّطت من قوالبها هنداماً يلبس مساحة وروعة صوتك. ما نحن بعدك إلا تلامذة أمينين في مدرستك، وناشرين أوفياء للنغم الصافي. أعدك من الآن وإلى اللقاء بك بأني سألقن "وديع" بأمانة لكل طلابي، وأتغنى بمعرفتك الشخصيّة وأبوّتك الروحيّة لي ما دامت ليَ الحياة