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Logan-Theres-no-living-with-killing

Logan: There’s no living with killing

Photo taken from Official Trailer

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Written By Simon Moetara, New Zealand

Logan is a far cry from the other superhero actioners in the X-Men franchise. Unlike 2000’s original X-Men, rated PG-13 in the US, where the blood-letting was kept to a minimum, this final R-16 instalment is a far darker and more brutal film, gut-wrenching in its visceral violence and profanity.

(Spoiler alert) It is 2029, and the mutant gene has been eradicated. Wolverine is drinking heavily and clearly sickly, working to support an ailing Charles Xavier (Professor X). A woman approaches Logan and asks for his help. Big, nasty corporation Transigen have cloned mutants to be super soldiers, but these mutant kids have escaped. Long story short, Logan ends up reluctant protector to a young girl named Laura, cloned from his DNA. He sets off on the road with Laura and Professor X with heavily armed bad guys in pursuit.

Following in the footsteps of violent anti-violence films like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1994), this is no cartoonish portrayal of violence without consequence: innocent people suffer, and those who deal in violence bear the consequences.

Logan draws on the classic 1953 western Shane (watched by Professor X and Laura in the hotel, and quoted by Laura over Logan’s grave). In Shane, a gunslinger tries to live a peaceful life, but in the end has to don his guns once again to protect the peaceful folk against the bullies. In the film’s finale, he says to the young farmer’s son who idolizes him: “There’s no living with a killing. There’s no going back from it. Right or wrong, it’s a brand, a brand that sticks.” For Logan director James Mangold, the film reflects the philosophy of Shane’s final words, in that Shane/Logan can never have a life, because they have taken life.

In one particular scene, where Laura explains that she has nightmares in which people hurt her, Logan says of his nightmares, “Mine are different. I hurt people.” Laura admits that she has hurt others, but they were bad people. Logan retorts, “All the same . . . ” His hanging, unfinished reply speaks volumes. The justification that “they deserve it” doesn’t mean much for Logan. It’s still killing, and it leaves its mark on the soul, a “brand that sticks”.

In the end, Logan chooses to care and sacrifices himself to save Laura and her friends. With his final words he says to Laura, “Don’t be what they made you.” Laura has the ability to make choices; she doesn’t need to be a feral killing machine.

Jesus taught, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matt 5:39). American Baptist minister and leader in the civil rights movement Martin Luther King said, “Violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” As American priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor points out, the main purpose of turning the other cheek is “to disarm the violence in us”. In following Christ’s example, rather than taking life, we seek to lay down our lives for others in loving service.

Logan also highlights the importance of hope and forgiveness. The film hints that Xavier’s dementia led to a telepathic seizure that caused the death of a number of mutants in the past. One night while on the run, Xavier, Laura and Logan spend the evening with a family. That night, lying in bed, Professor X says, “This was, without a doubt, the most perfect night I’ve had in a long time.” Then, remembering the tragedy he caused, he says, “I don’t deserve it, do I?”

Xavier’s words reveal his deep sense of shame and regret, and his need for something this world cannot offer. Alongside Logan’s guilt and struggle to connect, it shows these previously heroic figures to be all too flawed and human.

This is a wonderful thing about the gospel: we don’t deserve it. We don’t earn God’s love and forgiveness by working hard or being good, but rather, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith . . . not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:8a-9). Philip Yancey describes grace in in the following way:

Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more . . . And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less . . . Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love.

This human longing for forgiveness and peace is universal, and as one reviewer writes, Logan is a parable of “the hope that can be found in what we do not deserve.” We are loved and accepted. No matter what path we have walked, no matter what darkness we have encountered, grace and love, forgiveness and hope are available to us because of what God has done through Jesus Christ.

Why-I-Almost-Didnt-Get-Baptized

Why I Almost Didn’t Get Baptized

After five years of knowing, believing and growing in my Lord and Savior, I finally got baptized on Christmas Day last year.

It still feels somewhat surreal as I recall the day I declared my faith and was baptized at sea, with my friends and family watching on.

Yet it almost didn’t happen.

If you’d asked me a month or even two weeks prior to Christmas, I’d have shaken my head hesitantly and said, “Maybe next round . . .”

Even though I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior in early 2012, proudly called myself His follower, and prayed and read His Word daily, somehow I still didn’t feel ready to take the step into the waters.

 

Excuses, excuses

Maybe it was the fact that I was no longer riding on the spiritual high that came with first falling in love with Him.

Instead, as the daily grind of life soon took over, I ended up giving new excuses with the arrival of each Easter and Christmas: I was too stressed out by my studies and didn’t have the brain-space to join my church’s baptism class, I was bogged down by my thesis and struggling with depression . . .

Two weeks before Christmas—the last day on which we had to inform our church whether we wanted to be baptized—I bumped into an older sister-in-Christ from church.

“Are you getting baptized this Christmas?” she asked.

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Maybe next time.”

“Why?”

“Well . . . I don’t feel ready.”

She looked me in the eye and said, “But you’ll never feel prepared enough for baptism—no one ever does.”

Her words rang in my ears, and that night I sought the Lord in prayer, confessing my reluctance. As I did so, He revealed to me that my excuse of not being ready enough for baptism actually disguised a deep-rooted and flawed conception of myself, and what I thought I needed to do—or had failed to do—as His follower.

Beneath all my excuses and at the heart of my hesitance, was a whisper that I wasn’t worthy enough. And this belief ignored the very crux of Jesus’ redemptive act on the cross:

[B]ecause of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9, emphasis mine)

By grace, not works

On our own merit, we will never be good enough, or ready enough.

But we have been called to be baptized by Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:19-20), because it is a symbolic act of identification with Christ (Romans 6:4). Once I understood this truth, I went to my church leader and told her I wanted to be baptized. I wanted to publicly testify of how God had saved and sanctified me over the last five years of my life.

Baptism is a sign of the beginning of your journey with God, rather than a sign of having arrived.

If you’re like me and haven’t yet been baptized for some reason or another, I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to reveal if there are any lies or misbeliefs that may be holding you back.

After all, baptism is a sacrament instituted by Jesus and a reflection of God’s glory, grace and goodness—not a benchmark of our own worthiness or deservingness.

 

To learn more about baptism and the Lord’s Supper, check out this Discovery Series: https://discoveryseries.org/discovery-series/baptism-the-lords-supper/

_An-Accident-Nearly-Took-My-Life-But-Grace-Saved-Me

An Accident Nearly Took My Life But Grace Saved Me

Written By Xueying, Malaysia, originally in Traditional Chinese

On 20 August 2011, eight days after my 26th birthday, I was nearly killed in a car accident.

That Saturday morning, I was driving around the outskirts of my hometown, Ipoh, Malaysia, with a colleague. Suddenly, another car coming from the opposite direction veered into our lane and collided with us head-on, wrecking our car.

The driver, an elderly man, suffered minor injuries and was discharged shortly. My colleague and I, on the other hand, were critically injured. Both of us had to undergo surgery immediately. Tragically, my colleague passed away that very night. I remained unconscious, with multiple tubes inserted into my neck and wrist. A metal implant was also inserted into my right arm.

When my parents heard about the accident, they rushed to the hospital. When they saw the state I was in, they broke down. Every day after that, they would go to the temple to pray for my recovery. During that time, my relatives, friends and colleagues also visited me.

A week after the accident, I was transferred from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to the general ward as there was insufficient space in the ICU. Two months later, I was discharged; I was still unconscious.

For the first two months, I remained in a coma and was fed through a feeding tube. Pastors and church members streamed in to visit me. They held my hands and prayed fervently for me.

By the grace of God, I regained consciousness two months later. That, however, was just the beginning of a long and challenging journey. Due to injuries to my brain, my cognitive ability was severely impaired. Although friends and relatives tried to talk to me, I was unable to respond.

I had regressed to infant behavior. I had to re-learn simple things, like drinking water. My father removed my feeding tube and my mother tried to feed me with a milk bottle, coaxing me like a baby and saying repeatedly, “Come, swallow, swallow . . .” Apparently, it took me a minute just to swallow one mouthful.

Because the nerves on my left brain were so severely damaged, my mobility was restricted. I was lying on my back all the time, and it took me a lot of effort just to sit up.

Several months later, I started to walk again, supported by a pair of crutches. I will never forget the tremendous difficulty this took—I had to take a break every one or two steps, since it was too tiring to move my body. Each day, I could manage only a few hundred steps.

It was utterly exhausting. Back then, I didn’t know that I could rely on God, until a church friend passed me a Bible one day. She said to me, “Xueying, try reading the Bible when you are able to read. You can find answers to all your life questions and doubts in the Bible—true answers.”

As a child, I used to attend Sunday school; I loved singing worship songs. In university, I also attended church. However, although I knew who Jesus was, I never bothered to develop a personal relationship with Him. The only times I prayed were before exams or before the exams results were announced.

But the accident made me wonder about God’s purposes. I needed to know why I had to go through so much suffering in my life and why my loved ones had to suffer along with me. As such, while learning how to walk, I started to read the Bible.

I remember the first time I read the Bible vividly. I was casually flipping through the Bible and stumbled on this verse: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Instantly, my heart was lifted. This teaching by Jesus reinvigorated me and filled me with hope—God loves me and I am His new creation! From then on, I would tell myself whenever I felt like giving up, “Don’t cry, don’t be discouraged. God will lead the way, just follow Him in faith.”

In the five and a half years following my accident, I barely touched any form of technology—this despite the fact that I was working as an electrical engineer before my accident. Instead, I would read the Bible voraciously every day, spending time to reflect on how to follow God’s word.

During my recovery, I had five major falls—each caused unbearable pain. The fifth time, I lost my balance in my own bedroom and landed heavily. The scab on my left wrist scraped against the wall and blood started to flow profusely. The pain was excruciating and I sat on the floor because I was unable to get up from the floor on my own. I closed my eyes tightly and cried out to God, “Please help me Father, I’m in a lot of pain!”

At that moment, a song that I had learned more than 21 years ago came to my mind: “Although I’m weak, God is strong”. This immediately strengthened and comforted me. I reached out to grab some tissue to wipe the blood off my wrist, and told myself not to be afraid and to wait for my parents to come and help me. Ten minutes later, my father walked past my room and saw me sitting on the floor. “Why are you sitting on the floor, does your head hurt?” he asked. I could see the look of pain on his face when his eyes landed on the blood-soaked tissue on the floor beside me.

As he helped me up, I assured him by telling him my head did not hurt—it was just my left wrist that hurt. I added, “Wow papa, you can lift me up so quickly! You’re so strong!”

As I look back on this accident, I thank God for using it to change me inside out. He has saved me from being the pessimist I used to be, and rescued me from my dark thoughts. Now, I follow Him in the light and give thanks for everything I have in life. I’ve since learned that though there will always be difficulties in this life, with God I can overcome them all.

To a person who has gone through a near death experience, I have come to see that being able to live each day is nothing short of a miracle. And having experienced God’s saving grace, I see how it is the gospel that gives us the hope of living.

Coming from a village in Malaysia where most villagers are not Christians, I am especially aware that it is the grace of God that has enabled me to get to know Him. Therefore, I am making it a priority in my life to learn more about Him and tell others about God so that many people can get to know Him as their Lord and Savior. God’s word from Galatians 6:9 reminds me to spread the gospel zealously. My parents for instance, are not Christians, but have been opened to learning more about God. It warms my heart when I see how interested they are to hear the Bible stories.

A year ago on Christmas Eve, I testified about God’s goodness in church in the presence of my parents. I shared about God’s saving grace in my life and how He changed me. I compared my experience to the process of the metamorphosis of a pupa that faces difficulty when it breaks out of the cocoon. When it does, however, it emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

More recently, I have managed to ditch the crutches and make it up to the second floor of my church to attend service on my own feet. Praise be to God!

It is my prayer that I will continue to be found faithful sharing the gospel of Jesus, so that His word can light the way for others, just as it has for me.

“We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”—Hebrews 3:14

 

This-grace-(disgraced)

POEM: This Grace (Disgraced)

This-grace-(disgraced)

Written By Jacelyn Chia, Singapore
Edited By Reuben Teo

When sermons start to sound like soothing lullabies,
When my mind starts to slip away under distraction’s cries,
When the world outside drowns out your loving chastise
My heart from the true God flies.

When the exams, the friends, the paper chase
Blind me from the running of Your race,
Now I’m growing, changing, turning into
Something I was never, ever, meant to come to.

But fearing for what I might find, I try to run and hide.
Still, nothing holds Your grace from me
Nothing stops Your love
I want to run, yet I know you’d give chase
So I kneel before You in disgrace.

But though I broke Your heart a million times,
Though I scorned Your love in the bitter nights,
You lifted me, You raised me high,
Then You embraced me, oh so tight.

I came before Your throne disgraced,
But you told me to keep on running the race.
So now, in Your name I pray,
Help me never to forget Your grace.

Click on the image or click here to download.

Disgrace poem YMI (1)