On Travel Ads and Fake Gospels and One Good Captain

I hate travel ads. I hate it because it always portrays the sea as beautiful and sunny and calm. “Go to the sea and recharge yourself!” they say, with images of coconut trees, turquoise water, and a person relaxing on a hammock. They distort the image of sea to better suit their quarterly revenue growth target.

The sea is not always calm. There are storms there. Ugly creatures. It can be menacing or even life threatening sometimes.

Those people don’t realize that it is what it is, or worse, don’t care that they are misleading people. They disconnect people from reality. It is dangerous! People can have unrealistic preconceived notion about the sea and they can be disappointed when they find storms there. Worse, they can be so discouraged to the point of hating the sea.

In reality, the sea is sometimes beautiful and enjoyable, while at other times terrible and somber. Don’t ever expect the sea to be a tame poodle dog which always waggle its tail when you come, and don’t think of the sea as merely a large pool of water. It has its own emotion and reason.


I hate prosperity gospels. I hate it because it always portrays Christian life as beautiful and successful and, well, prosperous. “You are God’s children and you shall be prosperous in this world. Hallelujah!” With their fancy dress and charm they ensnare thousands of souls while collecting a lot of money. They make people feel good about themselves and they mislead them into thinking that all is “well” in the future if they believe in God. They distort God into a merry Santa Claus who gives toys to well-behaving children.

Christians are not always merry and successful and prosperous in this world. There are times of affliction, poverty, suffering, or even persecution.

Those people don’t realize, or worse, don’t care that they are misleading people into thinking that the gifts are better than the Giver. They cunningly interweave words like joy, peace, righteousness, or confidence in Christ into their core message of worldly success and material wealth. They always talk about you will get this and this and that. They don’t even talk about counting the cost of following Him. They disconnect people from the heart of Christian life. It’s all about you, not God. It is dangerous! People can pursue the gifts but not the Giver and they can be disappointed when they are not successful or prosperous in their lives. Worse, they can be so discouraged to the point of hating God.

In reality, Christian life can sometimes be merry and prosperous, while at other times sorrowful and hurting. Don’t ever expect God to be a jolly Santa Claus who always gives you what you want. He is who He is. He has His own discernment and wisdom. He has supreme understanding and sovereignty of what is good for His people, which is not always aligned with what His people want.


Dear courteous readers, this sailor of yours sometimes misleads himself (unintentionally, of course). Being a novice sailor, he is apt to make wrong decisions now and then. Life is a journey, they say, and so is Christian life. Sometimes he fits the concept of God to suit his worldly desire. In this case, this sailor of yours is no better than those prosperity seekers. That’s what makes prosperity gospel—or any other material pursuits—very dangerous, because it appeals to our most universal desire of being selfish. Every sane person wants their desires to be fulfilled, therefore everyone is prone to make use of God to get what one wants.

But sailing he goes, and he has learned a lot and still has a lot to learn in order to love the Giver more than the gifts. He tries to connect more and more to the ultimate reality and not delude himself of wishful thinking. He begins to see that this wonderful dance called life has its ups and downs, just like the rhythmic change of weather in the open ocean. He starts to accept that even though human beings are powerful, but they are of no comparison at all with God’s power. After all the mess he has made, he no longer wants to be the master of his fate and the captain of his soul.


The ocean can be cruel. Fortunately, there is a good Captain for all sailors out there. You may not hear Him now, but He is there. His wonderful message of hope does not always arrive in explicit form. Sometimes there are bizarre ways through which He communicates His presence, rather like semaphore code, or Morse code. So whatever wave it is that strikes your ship, however big and scary it is, take heart that it will come to pass.

Post tenebras lux (After darkness, light)

Latin phrase


Shocked by Joy

Bayangin lo berada dalam satu ruangan yang di dalamnya ada Kebenaran. Tapi lo ga bisa liat. Lo cuma bisa tau doang dia ada di situ. Segimana pun nyari, sekuat apa pun minta, lo ga bisa liat. Lo teriak, lo nangis.

Terus sekalinya lo ngeliat, lo terkaget karena wujudnya ga seperti yang digambarkan di film-film. Ternyata yang lo lihat adalah wajah yang teramat jelek. Lo terkejut. Lo kecewa berat. Tadinya lo berharap semua berjalan mulus dan manis, seperti rencana pembangunan jangka panjang pemerintah.

Lo kecewa. Lo putar balik, lalu keluar dari ruangan. Lo nyalakan mesin dan gas sekenceng-kencengnya. Lo ga tau lagi harus apa. Sampai lo nyampe di suatu tempat di mana lo udah ga sanggup lagi ngegas. Lo berhenti. Lo jalan sempoyongan, dan kemudian jatuh pingsan. Pingsan selama entah berapa tahun lamanya.

Begitu terbangun, lo nyadar kalau ternyata itu bukan wajahnya. Ternyata dulu di ruangan itu dia megang cermin besar. Ternyata itu wajah lo sendiri.

Sekarang lo tau siapa yang siapa dan apa yang apa. Tanpa penyadaran itu, hampir mustahil rasanya untuk dapat melihat wajahnya. Dan ya, wajahnya memang seperti yang digambarkan di film-film. Lo teriak, lo nangis, tapi kali ini dengan disambil tawa bahagia. Dengan rasa penasaran seorang anak kecil lo menunggu trik sulap berikutnya dari sang Maestro.

Above the noise of selfish strife We hear Thy voice, O Son of Man.

Aiden W. Tozer


How Can You Even Make Sense of “Forever”?

Oftentimes I find the concept of “eternity” difficult to comprehend. Suppose you’re a painter, with what colors do you paint eternity? Suppose you’re a songwriter, in what chords, what progressions, what tonality do you compose?

It’s just over midnight when I decide to have a short walk before sleeping. I find all the boys are sound asleep except one.

“That your wife?”

“Uh, no, sir,” he replies while swiftly tucking a photograph of a beautiful young lady inside his pocket.

“You’re a lucky guy.”

“I guess so.”

“How long have you two been together?”

“Eight years.”

“Wow. That’s quite a long time.”

“Not without our ups and downs.” He chuckles nervously.

“Have some trouble sleepin’ in the dirt?”

“No, sarge, it’s just I don’t feel like sleeping already.”

I sat down next to him. It was full moon and I could see his weary face clearly. There’s a momentary silence as his mind begins to wander.

“I really miss her,” he says, out of nowhere. Then another silence follows.

“Do you think the war will soon be over, sir?”

“I don’t know.” I know that sort of answer would not give him relief but I honestly don’t know. Personally, I’m tired of this war.

His face becomes solemn. “When I go back to Jakarta, I will propose to her.”

“I’ll cut your throat if you don’t invite me.”

He chuckles again. This young man has a contagious kind of jolly and warm chuckle which immediately lifts your mood up.

“Tell me, do you believe in heaven and hell, private?”

“Yeah, I do. What of it, sir?” He turns his head towards me, interested in my unexpected question.

“I never get it.” I pause for a moment. “It’s funny, though, how temporary our lives here on Earth seem to be.” He looks intently at me, waiting to hear my next sentences.

“This war makes me think again, deep inside. I’ve seen plenty of deaths already. A grenade falls, bang! You’re dead. Just weeks ago we’re hit by an ambush. We were eating! There was this man, he hadn’t even finished sayin’ his prayer yet.”

“It’s horrible,” he says. He looks upset. Now he turns his head back, looking to the darkness in front of us. The darkness seems to stare back, as if mocking our complete inability in knowing when the war will be over.

“Sarge, what if this war won’t be over? What if… this war continues forever?”

“Oh, you don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, kid. What’s ‘forever’? What do you mean by that?”

“Uh, like, forever, sir.”

“I can’t make sense of ‘forever’. Guess that’s why I have trouble believin’ in heaven and hell.”

“I too, sir, have a difficulty in making sense of it. But dare I say to you, it might help if you look at it from another perspective.”

“Another perspective?”

“Yeah. I mean, ‘forever’ is almost crazy, right? You have this stretch of time,” he stretches his arms wide open, “and it has no beginning and no end. But then again, if you think about it, there is no time there.”

He is silent for a while, trying to find a way to communicate his idea. “Oh, now I’m blabbering.”

“No, no. Please continue.”

“Are you sure? My friends would be bored whenever I start to talk about things like this.” He chuckles again.


“Right. So you have this concept of a place where there is no time. How can a man make sense of a place without time? It’s very puzzling! We’re so used to the concept of time. All our lives, we cannot escape from time.

“But I try to approach it from the other direction. In my attempt to make sense of the ‘forever’, I’d think first of the ‘never’. The two are somewhat similar, in a sense that they’re both timeless. There is no time also in the ‘never’. I’d ponder about things that hasn’t happened yet, and extrapolate it so that it would never happen. Like, what if we’d never land on Mars, or… or, what if I would never marry her. Well, that knocks my brain!”

We look again into the darkness. Sometimes I have the feeling that I would never see peace again. This war has been going for three years I almost forget my previous life. Experiencing so many horrors sets a new normal in my mind.

“And then I’d compare those images of ’never’ with images of ‘ever’: the image of me living in Mars, for example. Or, the image of my wedding day. Well, even though ‘ever’ isn’t exactly the same as ‘forever’, but it helps, you know.”

Now it’s me who chuckle. “Funny. I compare the images of war and peace side by side. I can vividly imagine this war going on and on and on, but it just no longer makes sense to me that we can have eternal peace. Guess I’ve been here for too long.”

“Uh, in our original context of heaven and hell, it does make sense, sir. If I’m asked to imagine a place where there is torture forever, I cannot do that. But if I am to picture a place where no one can ever see Peace and Love, well, I can do that. Same goes for the opposite.”

The darkness in front of us is pitch black. It is a terrible thing to have no light at all. I get up, quietly thanking in my downtrodden heart for the full moon above us.

“It’s a helpful technique, sarge,” says he, with a cordial smile on his face.

“It is. Go to sleep, private, it’s almost one.”

“Yes, sir.”

As I walk back, I’m reminded of a story my grandmother used to tell me when I was a little boy. It was about a really bad man who never did any good during his life. He stole, he beat people up, he lied, he cheated. As the story goes, one day he was arrested and sentenced to death. No one would even dare to think that he could be forgiven. But on his last day on Earth, he said to the man beside him, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” And as the story goes, that criminal be with him in paradise.

All of a sudden, the ‘never’ becomes ‘forever’.

On the Inordinate Use of Social-ish Media

“Really? For Goliath’s sake, when was the marriage?” asked I, upon learning that a friend had the courage to get married without my knowledge of the special occasion.

I was only a bit annoyed at first. But then came my friend’s response: “It was on Facebook! When was the last time you sign in to your Facebook account?”

“I don’t see why I should.”

“Come on man, are you kidding me? You live in the 2016 and you can’t see why you should be on Facebook?!”

Now normally I am a very calm man, but okay, he asked for it.

“Listen to me. Imagine you are hitchhiking on a spaceship launched exactly from the location where you sit now. At first you will see this compound of concrete and asphalt we call Jakarta. All its buildings, all its roads, cars, along with its happy inhabitants. After a while you will be high enough to look at the vastness of the dense Borneo jungle, all those innumerable trees—with who knows how many insects and birds and bats and reptiles—crisscrossed by large, snake-like rivers. Then the Pacific ocean comes into view, glimmering under the Sun on one of its corner and brewing a tropical cyclone on the other, at the same time being a nurturant home to countless fishes and invertebrates.

“Keep going until the whole planet fits into your panorama. This, I presume, should be the first time you really have a sense of how big and beautiful Planet Earth actually is. Continuing your hitchhiking voyage, you come within moon’s orbit distance. You see the proverbial earthrise the way Frank Borman saw it. You concede a gaping mouth, I bet. Now keep going, keep going. By now you should reach the periphery of the Solar System. As Neptune passes by, you notice the one planet you call home shrinks. It shrinks and it shrinks and it shrinks, until it turns into a pale blue dot.

“Right now you must wonder, is this how small we are in the universe? Our planet, with all the people and all the events? Now picture people. People hunting antelope, people building pyramids, people fighting each other. People reciting poem, people singing, people dancing. People writing equations, people sailing around the world, people testing out a flying contraption, people making video calls. People praying. People go to work. People marching for freedom. People born. People die.

“And then you wonder why are we here—what are we doing, on this pale blue dot in one corner of the universe.

“Now hold your curiosity, go find a mirror, see your own facial expression, and then say: FACEBOOK.”

He stared blankly at me. And after a few seconds paid his due attention back to the news feed again.

Well, maybe he doesn’t like essential things. Or maybe he is just addicted.

One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.

John S. Piper

Eternity, the Reason Why

Nggak terasa blog ini udah berusia 7 tahun—dan saya ketawa juga setelah nyadar bahwa ini entry pertamanya.

Saya tertawa kecil karena ketika saya lihat lagi ke belakang, saya merasa lucu aja dengan ironi yaitu saya yang pernah capek-capek mencari jawaban “Kenapa?” sampai akhirnya memutuskan untuk menjawarakan Voltaire ini (https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111114201539AA7kmOb) ternyata sudah mengerti dari awal. Ini lucunya kayak orang yang order delivery pizza terus setelah ganti pesanan 5 kali karena plin-plan nentuin topping akhirnya nungguin lama dan abang delivery-nya nggak dateng-dateng dan di titik itu dia nyadar kalau ternyata dia salah satu abang delivery juga (“Oiya, kan gua lagi on duty ya”).

Kebetulan malam ini teringat almarhum teman yang suka memandangi langit malam juga. Ya, memang ternyata sedikit sekali yang kita tau tentang hidup. “Kenapa?”, “Kok begitu?”, “Kenapa bukan saya aja?”, “Kenapa harus sekarang?”, “Kok gini banget sih?”, “Emangnya kenapa kalo aku nggak mau?”, “Terus apa esensinya?”, “Udah gini doang?”, dan lain sebagainya. Tapi saya percaya ada Alasan di balik ini semua. Dan Alasan itu hanya bisa dipandang tête-à-tête, dari dekat, dalam sebuah hubungan personal yang satu kakinya berada di alam mortal, dan satu lagi di kekekalan—Eternity, the ultimate why.

In memoriam Rudi Rauf.
Rest in peace, my friend.

The Cruising Battleship

Oke, di post kedua ini gw mau cerita tentang asal-muasal dibuatnya blog ini, karena semua hal yang ada di dunia ini pasti punya latar belakangnya masing2, ya gak? Well, ide buat bikin blog sebenernya udah ada di otak dari tahun 2008, tapi waktu itu gw masih keranjingan ama yg namanya game online, jadi pas connect ke internet, gw bukannya ngetik http://wordpress.com trus klik “Sign up for a new blog”, tapi malah nyasar ke server2 game online. Pendek kata, tahun 2008 pun berlalu tanpa bikin blog, datanglah tahun 2009 yang sibuk. Sebagai anak kelas 3 SMA yang baik, pastinya gw mesti bener2 konsen ke dua hal penting: UAN sama Perguruan Tinggi. Dari bulan Januari sampe April itu bener2 sama sekali gak ada kesempatan buat ngapa-ngapain selain belajar, makan, tidur, UKM (urusan kamar mandi hahaa lol), dan kembali belajar.

Nah, baru pas akhir April kemarin gw bisa menghirup udara bebas. UAN udah…

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When It Feels Like Surgery and It Burns Like Third Degree and You Wonder What Is It Worth

Brexit is a worrying sign that our world is on the verge of undergoing seismic changes—or is it?

It was a shocking message: the Great Britain had decided to leave European Union. In almost no time the media was instantly filled with analysis and editorials and prolonged debates on comment sections. The British pound plunged to the lowest in 30 years.

In the wake of Brexit came the realization of a recession. All of a sudden everyone started to panic and caused turmoil in the market. The footsie dropped and DAX and Nikkei and Hang Seng followed the same pattern.

But that doesn’t concern me. After all, them bankers and investors aren’t the ones who live below poverty line.

What concerns me was the fragmentation of Europe. Nostalgic nationalism gave rise to “far-right populist movement”.

History repeats itself, they say. Europe had nightmares, and those nightmares came in ultra-nationalistic nights.

And if this is another history, pray it won’t go down to the same corner as Franz Ferdinand or Edvard Beneš did.

Pelintiran Hati di Bawah Layar yang Terkembang

Terkadang aku takut tidur di malam hari

Takut esok Laut masih lagi hitam dan putih

dan camar laut tak menemukan pijakan.


Bertahun Matahari tidak terbit di sini, Kawan,

sampai-sampai aku lupa siapa dia.

Atau mungkin aku belum pernah mengenalnya?


Di malam hari aku juga tak berani membuat api

“Kapalku hanyalah kapal kayu biasa,” pikirku

Maka kuambil secarik kertas dan melipatnya

membentuknya menjadi api kertas besar


Oh, yang akan terus kuingat!

Bahwa yang membakar bukanlah api,

melainkan kepalsuan yang lembab.

Delapan belas ikan di bawahku tertawa


Ternyata api tak pernah mau membakar kapal

Dengan tulus diambilnya kursi

lalu bercerita tentang Hidup

dan ikut menertawakannya

Api yang membasahi jiwa, menyegarkan


Tidak ada yang lebih indah dari tawa itu; tidak ada.

Selamanya aku dapat tidur tenang di malam hari

Kini Bumiku merah dan hijau dan biru


Akan kuantar kau ke pelabuhan dengan pelukan seribu tahunku

“Berlayarlah, Sayang!”

Kepakan indah sayapmu

mengairi sesiapa yang terkunjungi.


Dan sementara waktu aku pergi

Mencari mesin pintar dan padi perak

Semua yang terjadi, semua yang akan terjadi


Hidup kurayakan, Maut kusambut

Aku sudah bisa tidur nyenyak

Hingga pagi nanti kita terbangun,

kuharap sekitar tak lagi lembab