God’s creation vs. man’s contrivance

I don’t intend to turn this blog into a “travelog”, but vacations are a rare occurrence with my family, so I thought it’d be worth recording this most recent one.

The trip was what I’d expected — a decent breather after the intellectual/mental stress of final exams, but perhaps more stressful in its own way: my father’s the definition of a nervous traveler. Not the most amazing itinerary — we spent long hours on various buses — but, after all, the point of the thing was more to spend time as a family than to see/tour/experience.

Friday, April 26th — left early morning for the airport, arrived in LAS (that’s the McCarran Int’l Airport just outside the Las Vegas city proper) early afternoon. Took the bus down the famous strip and got a first glimpse of that dense array of consolidated casino-hotels, including the one we would stay at — the Stratosphere.Stratosphere

Sirens of TI

We weren’t there to play (I mean gamble); Vegas is just one of those well-known destinations Chinese tourists like my parents feel they need to have been to once. (Also the flight and lodging are comparatively cheap). We weren’t there for the shows either. Big names like Elton John and Celine Dion were around, but of course we only saw the free shows (Sirens of TI, volcano at the Mirage)… 

Vegas is not, evidently, the place for a seeking Christian to be. (You can see I didn’t plan the trip). The posters and billboards (that includes buses) were obscene enough; and then there were the flyers they try to make you take. But with all that it offers for the soul’s enjoyment (the opposite of losing one’s soul-life in Matthew 10:39), beneath the flashy façade is just vanity of vanities (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Saturday, April 27th — joined a Grand Canyon South Rim bus tour, listened to the interesting but rather endless commentary of the tour guide/bus driver, got a first panorama of the canyon at Mather Point…

Mather PointIt’s the kind of the place I’d love to explore alone, but of course the renowned park (or at least the south rim) was far too touristy for that. Would’ve liked to do much more hiking, but we only had 1.5 hours in the Bright Angel area and about 40 minutes to sample the 13-mile trail…

Bright Angel TrailSunday, April 28th — Greyhound adventures. The 4-hour drive scheduled for 6.5 hours actually took 12.5 hours. Arrived at Anaheim near midnight. Decided not to take the return trip with Greyhound.

Disneyland

Monday, April 29th — Disneyland! I was quite pleasantly surprised: lines weren’t 2 hours long, Disneyland as a theme park was well done (California Adventures not as much), and my almost-six-years-old brother made the rides surprisingly fun for me. (I had expected to have to go on them alone, since he was scared of even the water slide at the local pool). Grizzly River Run was decidedly the family favorite (my parents only went on 2 rides); Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad were sadly closed for the season. Mickey’s “Soundsational” Parade was fun; World of Color was relatively impressive. All in all…I liked it! But I still think the ideal Disneyland visitor is 6 to 12 years old (good thing I had one with me!).

Universal Studios

Tuesday, April 30th — Universal Studios Hollywood. Here my brother was no longer the target audience: Jurassic Park was fun, Transformers 3D a stretch, Revenge of the Mummy a no-no. I was still teeming with Disney, so I was a little put off by the special effects-based rides. Then I realized that that’s what Hollywood was all about — all illusion and no substance — so in the end I got out of The Simpson’s Ride almost impressed. (And yes, the park was quite empty, in case you’re wondering about the photo).

Also made a short stop on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland. My dad would’ve liked to take a picture with Madame Tussaud’s Marilyn Monroe… Too bad there was a bit of a line!

Hollywood BoulevardWednesday, May 1st — took the LuxBus back to Vegas (actually made it in 4.5 hours!), had the afternoon to explore the strip and visit Town Square. This time we stayed at Hilton Grand Vacations, one of the few non-casino hotels. The suite was excessively impractical: 4 TVs but a 4 cm-thick mattress for the sofa bed (I ended up not pulling it out and sleeping on the couch instead).

Thursday, May 2nd — it had hardly been a week, but I was exhausted and glad to be home!

Now an explanation for the title to this post. One of the things that struck me on this trip was the human attempt at creation. Las Vegas rose from barren desert to become a top resort city; Disneyland turned the ideas of Walt Disney into “The Happiest Place on Earth”; Hollywood forms pictures into billion-dollar blockbusters. But then you gaze on God’s creation — something like the Grand Canyon that man could never begin to fabricate — and man’s biggest successes become so small, so limited, in comparison. But what is the Grand Canyon to the major items of God’s creation — the heavens He stretches forth, the earth whose foundations He lays, the spirit of man which He forms (Zechariah 12:1)? Yet even these are not His ultimate and consummate work. Ephesians 2 tells us that we, the believers composing the church, are God’s masterpiece. When God’s New Testament economy is accomplished, when He obtains the church as a bride for Christ, when He attains His full satisfaction and rest in the New Jerusalem… nothing will compare.

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Now has come…

Revelation 12:10 says

And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night.

This “now” comes when the woman travailing in birth (v.2) brings forth a son, a man-child (v.5). This “now” comes when the stronger part of God’s people, consisting of the overcomers, is brought forth from the church. This “now” comes when the “great dragon [has been] cast down, the ancient serpent, he who is called the Devil and Satan, he who deceives the whole inhabited earth” (v.9). Hallelujah! What a “now” to look forward to!

The obvious question: how do we get from the present time to this “now”?

It appears that warfare is involved. The woman aforementioned was not peacefully travailing in birth, you see. Verse 4 tells us that “the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, so that when she brings forth he might devour her child.” There’s a serpent-become-dragon seen from Genesis to Revelation who will do everything he can to delay the “now” — to delay the execution of the death sentence that Jesus Christ gave him on the cross (Hebrews 2:14). Hence the necessity and even inevitability of spiritual warfare.

We might know about swords, canons, A-bombs, bioterrorism (yes, I’m in microbiology), etc., but it takes a whole different set of weaponry and skill to fight when

our wrestling is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies. (Ephesians 6:12)

  1. Be in full obedience to God under His ruling. Satan is the source of rebellion, so whether we end up in his camp or in God’s camp depends on whether we obey.
  2. Believe in the facts revealed in the Word of God. Isaiah 25:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:54, for instance, tell us that death has been swallowed up unto victory. Hallelujah! We must believe this, and we must declare this!
  3. Be properly positioned in the heavenlies with the ascended Christ (Ephesians 2:6). We fight from above! We’re positioned to tread on the principalities!
  4. Refuse to fight an individual battle. We need to refuse because Satan will tempt us to engage in battle alone. He knows that the moment we do is the moment we’re defeated. We stand no chance alone. That’s why the Lord placed us in His Body! Our fight is a corporate fight — “because we are members of His Body” (Ephesians 5:30).
  5. Be empowered in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to “be empowered in the Lord and in the might of His strength”. Colossians 1:11 tells us to be “empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory”. 2 Timothy 2:1 tells us to “be empowered in the grace which is in Christ Jesus”. I’m always telling the Lord that I’m weak, weak, weak. But the Lord is telling me, “Be strong, don’t be weak! These are not times to be weak!” Well, my flesh is still weak. But there’s power in Jesus who is in my spirit!
  6. Put on the whole armor of God and leave no part unguarded. The warrior in Ephesians 6 is so well equipped. (That’s the corporate warrior, by the way.) Equipped with what? With all the aspects of the all-inclusive Christ!
  7. Fight by standing. The aforesaid warrior takes up the whole armor of God to “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v.13). We must keep standing. Unmovable.
  8. Receive the sword of the Spirit. That warrior has one offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God (v.17). The Lord Jesus withstood the tempter by the word of God (Matthew 4:6,7,10). This is what Satan’s afraid of.
  9. Pray in spirit. The warrior receives the helmet and the sword “by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit” (v.18). To pray in spirit is to really pray in the name of Jesus (as opposed to just adding “In Your name we pray” as a kind of P.S. to our prayers).
  10. Claim the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 12:11 tells us that “they overcame him (the accuser in v.10) because of the blood of the Lamb”. The blood answers before God all the accusations of the devil against us, therefore the blood should be answer to Satan.
  11. Declare the word of our testimony. The same v.11 tells us that “they overcame him…because of the word of their testimony”. What is our testimony? It is the fact that the devil has been judged by the Lord!
  12. Fight without caring for our soul-life. Revelation 12:11 continues: “they loved not their soul-life even unto death”. The scariest soldier is one who fights with no expectation of coming out alive. No wife and kids to return to, no fortune to make, no future bright to live out. No reservation. No backward glances. Daniel was such: he prayed with the full knowledge that he would be thrown into the lion’s den for it (Daniel 6).

Lord, teach us to cooperate with You in Your warfare. Grant us faith to stand upon Your victory. Gain Your mighty warrior for the bringing forth of the man-child. Father, Your name be sanctified; Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth. We look forward to the triumphant shout of “Now has come”.