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- Christian Social Network
Monday, March 26, 2012
Ի՞նչ Է Տարբերութիւնը Յիսուսի Հաւատացող Ըլլալուն եւ Անոր Աշակերտ Ըլլաու Միջեւ, Յովհ. 15.1-8 - Ճիմի Քոզման Օհանեան
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On Sunday, 26 February, the worship service was dedicated to the Christian Endeavor Association. The youth led the whole service, where:
Mrs. Jimmy Kozman-Ohanian brought the message,
Mr. Ara Torkomian led the singing,
Ms. Christine Simidian read her testimony/report,
Mr. Kevork Koumashian gave his testimony,
Mr. Vartan Hovsepian read the report of Chanits,
Ms. Kohar Apkarian gave her testimony,
Mr. Samuel Demirjian led the prayer,
Ms. Armig Kazezian played the piano,
and Mr. Koko Avesian played the drums.
The Junior Youth (Badaniats) graduates read the Chanits pledge, afterwhich the pastor prayed for the graduating junior youth. The chairman of the Badaniats leaders, Ms. Markrid Markarian distributed the gifts to Christine, Christine, Sarin, Nanor, Caroline, Sevag, Kevork, and Krisd.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).
I was taking a late-night walk with one of my friends the other day when he revealed to me one of his greatest fears. He is a devoted atheist, knows the Bible pretty well, has a critical mind, so we can’t accuse him of ignorance. Near midnight, he tells me, “Vahe, I must tell you that one of my greatest fears is that this (he meant this life) might be the end. How I wish there was a heaven, but unfortunately there isn’t one.”
I started thinking about this issue and came to the realization that Faith is our only argument and that nothing else will vouch for our belief in God.
In my last article about apologetics, I wrote about Martin Buber’s reply to the atheist writer, “But can you be sure there is no God?” This question comes exactly back to saying “But can you be sure there are no Flying Unicorns, fairies, or cosmic teapots revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit?” Similarly, the question about how we can prove there is no God may apply to proving the existence of Russell’s teapot. Many of you will think, “Don’t be naive. It’s not true. Surely, unicorns, fairies and celestial teapots do not exist.”
Death has troubled many souls. I encourage you to read what the philosophers of the enlightenment era have written about how religion was made to give false hopes of life after death. This question of fear has been an issue for as long as Mankind has existed on earth. Philosophers like Voltaire, d’Holbach and Montesquieu have accused religion of instilling fear in people, making them fear a superior being that is watching their every step and move.
Maybe we don’t have to go that far back in time. Christopher Hitchens the renowned atheist journalist/writer who was fighting esophageal cancer and died in December 2011, has said, “The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” ― Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-believer, 2007.
It’s amazing how Hitchens was so sure about the non-existence of heaven and hell. For him and for us death is the only certain point in life, inescapable and so true. If you are honest with yourself, you’ll come to realize that death is also your worst fears: the fact that ‘I won’t exist anymore,’ ‘I won’t wake up everyday,’ ‘I won’t see the people I love ever again’.
You may agree that you are Christian because of your surrounding influence. If you were born in China or Laos, the chances of you becoming a follower of Christ would decrease dramatically. It is my belief that everyone should reconsider for a moment what their actual reasons for believing are. If your reason is based on your fear of total non-existence then it would be better for you not to follow Christ at all. Apostle Peter said, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” 1 Peter 3:15.
My friends, this is what differentiates us from other religions. Islam has 99 names for Allah but not one of them is Father. Reading the Bible will comfort you and give you the assurance you need: “Do not be afraid,” we read in Isaiah, for “I am with you. I am your God. Let nothing terrify you. I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you,” Isaiah 41:10. I don’t know about you, but reading this verse makes me immediately forget the fears brought about by this world.
Fear will not base our belief on Faith rather on blind faith. So, if your Faith is based on fear, how do you expect to grow in the Lord? To experience God’s power, you need to lift yourself up to Him and give Him all you have. God doesn’t want to know that you only believe in Him because your eyes are glued to the horror of eternal punishment.
Jesus knows you. He said, “I am the good shepherd and I know my sheep and am known by my own,” John 10:14. Indeed, if you belong to Jesus then your thoughts and your mind are above all these. This is why Jesus came and reconciled Humankind with God, at-one-ment (atonement) was necessary so that earthly things would be secondary issues to us, so that we would not store treasures on earth where thieves can steal them but in heaven where the Almighty will store them for us.
The feeling of fear is normal. Mankind always fears something, may that be human or spiritual. And this feeling will not go away instantly or during your sleep at night. This fear needs spiritual healing, a heavenly touch. As Christians we must surpass these things. Let us not be like our fellow atheists who long for Christ but boldly claim that He doesn’t exist, and they continue to live in fear.
Let His peace reign in your life, “Leave all your worries with him because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:7.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
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Would you pay $16 for two cups of espresso? I generally would not, but in Beirut, we did just that. We probably weren’t paying for the espresso itself, but instead for the prime real estate where we we were enjoying our coffee. Located in downtown Beirut across from the house of parliament, this cafe was also unfortunate enough to be the last place the late Prime Minister Rafik Harriri drank coffee before being assassinated seven years ago.
Beirut is not cheap. Most meals here are either comparable or more expensive than what I’d be paying for in the US. Our produce and groceries in general matched what I would pay back home. The food is better and the atmosphere that much more lively (can you be an introvert in the Beirut?) and prices are just as comparable to what I would expect in the US.
One of the key difference on the cost of things here versus cost of things back in the US, is the emphasis on community. Things may be expensive, but rarely have I seen someone dine by themselves, or grab a cup of coffee by themselves. We drove and walked past several Starbucks coffee shops, and what stood out was that there was no one who was alone.
Taking Starbucks as an example, this is a company that values itself as building a third place for people–where community takes place. Yet my experience of Starbucks is less of that and more of it being an office away from the office. A place where I have my own personal time to do my own personal things.
In Lebanon, that’s hardly the value. The higher value is to build and enjoy community and friendships. Relationships are critical for everything here. So $16 may be expensive for a couple cups of coffee, but what we paid for was actually not the coffee nor the rent in prime location–we paid for the space and place to enjoy one another’s company.
After the great success of Sipan Barakhoump in 2011, the barakhoump is getting ready for its 2012 performance as well.
Through the vibrant leadership of its wonderful baroostsooyts - Carina Alexanian - this year's show will be unique in its own.
Four different groups - yes! four different groups comprising current students and the alumni - will be taking part in this magnificent event which propagates the very best of Armenian culture through music, dance and other surprises.
Don't forget to see this unique show as the group will only be performing twice this year.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
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ՎԵՐ. ՅՈՎՀԱՆՆԷՍ ՍՎԱՃԵԱՆ
On the occasion of the announcement by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of Holy See of Cilicia 2012 as the Year of the Armenian Book, the Armenian Prelacy of Cyprus has scheduled a series of lectures every Friday during the Lenten season. The first lecture was dedicated to the Bible, and the lecture was delivered by Mr. Hrayr Jebejian, General Secretary of the Bible Society in the Gulf. The lecture, entitled “The Bible: The Book of Hope” was delivered on February 24 in the Armenian Orthodox Church in Nicosia.
“Undoubtedly,” Mr. Jebejian said, “the Bible played an important role in the life of the Armenian people right from the day when Armenia accepted Christianity as a state religion in AD 301. The Armenian alphabet was invented so that the Bible will be translated into Armenian. Since then the national and Christian identities of the Armenian nation have been integrated as an inseparable entity. The Bible played a vital role in the development of the Armenian culture throughout the ages, and Christian faith helped the Armenian nation to overcome the many calamities it went through throughout its history.”
Mr. Jebejian pointed out that the theology of the Bible is based on the “I Am” sayings of Jesus Christ. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he will live” (John 11:25). The essence of “I am” and the fact that He saves and offers a new life on earth and in eternity make Christianity a unique religion. “This new life is based on God’s love which is real because He came down to earth to share it with the world,” explained Mr. Jebejian.
“It is written in John 3:16 that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” he continued. “We are the recipients of God’s love and are asked to give the same love back to God by sharing it with the community we live in. This love is what makes the lives of human beings filled with the hope of God. We live this hope in our lives on earth and for eternity.” The life of the believer was illustrated through Luke 18:18 when “A certain ruler asked Jesus, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” A believer’s life is not in “doing this” or “not doing that” rather on setting their priorities right. A Christian’s priorities lie in accepting Jesus’ “I Am” as the leading motto in their life.
God’s love is illustrated in chapter 13 of Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians. Verse 4 talks about love being patient, enduring, with the intention of building something new and generating hope. This was the lesson Jesus intended to teach through the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The Samaritan’s love was characterized by his endurance and care for the wounded person to the end. Christian hope is community-oriented and helps to build a national, civic identity.
Mr. Jebejian’s final point was that hope for perfection is made possible because God “gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control” (2 Timothy 1:7). This same hope enables us to love life even when we struggle. It helps us to maintain a discipline in life where values are preserved. It is this same hope that will help believers to follow the path of Jesus and his experiences: His victorious entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, His betrayal and suffering during the Holy week, His crucifixion and death on Good Friday and His triumphant resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday. Similarly, as Christians we live a life full of joy, pain, and victory. The Bible helps us to navigate through all these experiences in a meaningful way, with an identity that is generated by the hope of eternal life.
A couple years ago, my dad sent me a website that showed a picture slideshow of Lebanon, revealing some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my life. I had grown up and lived in Lebanon for 10 years and had not seen any of these sights in person. So I replied to his email, “Why did you never take us to these places?” To which he responded, “Don’t you remember we lived during a time of war?”
War had severely limited how we spent our time, who and where we visited, and how we made decisions in general. In the last two days, we had seen more of Lebanon than I had ever seen as a child.
The country is rich in its history and beautiful. I started my morning eating breakfast facing the Mediterranean Sea, and by mid-morning, we were driving through picturesque snow covered hills. From the ancient Roman ruins we visited to the old villages we drove through, this is a country that had lost much of its reputation because of war and politics.
War and politics continue to dominate the psyche of people. It’s a complicated mess of a country and trying to get the political landscape straight is not an easy task. Yet apart from politics, the people are incredible hosts who value hospitality more than anything else.
In about half a day, I visited all the major landmarks from my childhood–where I lived, where I went to school, where my father worked, and where we socialized. I felt nostalgia at each of those locations and felt at home in each of those contexts. My major takeaway, though, is how small everything looks. Yet those were my world. And in this trip, my world didn’t just feel small, but it also got expanded, by touring villages and sights that are beautiful.
The other takeaway is the power of hospitality. I have a high value for hospitality. I think it’s one of those non-negotiable Biblical values. So I teach and model hospitality in my ministry. But no matter how much of it I model and live out, it pales in comparison to the hospitality that is embedded in the culture here. To be blunt and potentially offend my American friends, the hospitality here is like Level 301. It’s just natural and not intentional for people to extend hospitality. (I recently defined hospitality as serving and prioritizing others. I like that definition)
In my ministry, I aim for something like hospitality 201–trying to model the Biblical call of welcoming people into my life. And part of the 201 stuff is trying to inspire people who come from no value for hospitality, and having them not just do the 101 stuff (i.e. learning to be kind), but to do the 201 stuff of being radical.
What we see here is 301–it puts the radical hospitality to shame. And now I have that much of a stronger picture of the kind of hospitality Jesus challenged in his ministry (i.e. in his parable and teachings in Luke 14).
People who are not necessarily committed followers of Jesus have expressed the Kingdom in ways they don’t even know! They have served and prioritized well.
Փետրուար 23 եւ 24, 2012-ին Հայ Աւետարանական Թորոսեան Վարժարանի Երազ թատերախումբը ներկայացուց «Կախարդական Բառը» Յովհաննէս Պօղոսեան սրահին մէջ: Բեմադրիչը՝ Ռոպերթ Առաքելեան միահիւսած էր թատրոնին մէջ երգն ու պարը արտայայտելու գլխաւոր պատգամը, թէ մեր ներքին աշխարհը կ'արտացոլայ մեր գործած բառերով: Այս պարագային «բառ»ը «Հաճիս»ն էր: