Sunday, October 25, 2015

Your sins are forgiven | Manna for your Soul

Have you felt like you've just hit rock-bottom? 
Are you emotionally exhausted?
Do you frequently go through bouts of remorse and regret?

I know how it feels because I used to go through endless cycles of remorse and every time I hit rock-bottom, it looked like I was falling further deeper. Until I was born again to the word of God. 

I'll let you in on some of the secrets - 

  • Not everyone is responsible for your problems. We are responsible for the crises in our lives. Relationship crises aside, it is important to realize that we are all very fragile beings. 
  • Be aware of whose hospitality you seek, because there could be more than meets the eye (Proverbs 23:7).
  • If you are filled with forbidding and anxious thoughts then you will bring despair and gloom. Like looking out of gloom-tinted glasses, everything appears bad. Experts will tell you to fight thoughts with thoughts, but if you want complete healing, try the Word of God (Proverbs 15:15)
  • You are not a work in progress. You are not an accident. You are exactly what God says you are. And you have exactly what He says you have. So when someone asks me, 'Have you seen God?' I simply show them a mirror. Because you look and are exactly the way He is.
  • Think thoughts that are consistent with what God wants you to think and you will be transformed (Philippians 4:5-8)They have the power to keep you in bondage or liberate you. Your mind is the gateway to your heart. Scientists have proven the power of the mind and successful people around the world have told that if you want to be successful, you need to think like a champion.
  • Mat 8:13 says 'It shall be done for you as believed. Spoken or not uttered.'. Seeing is not believing. Believing is believing. Do you believe? Throughout the Bible, we have compelling stories of believers who found favor in the hearts of man and the sight of God only because they believed.
  • In Mat 9:29, God also asks us to have that unquenchable desire to be forgiven, more than merely asking for healing. Because like the way Jesus forgave her and healed her from within (in Luke 7 : 48 & 50), God is waiting to forgive you and heal you. If only we confess our sins. And here's a curious translation of a popular phrase in the Bible  - Every time, the Bible says 'in order that', it means to fulfill prophecies, because forgiveness of sins show the authority of God.
  • Don't ask for miracles in your life. Because He is already doing what He needs to do to get you what you need. Throughout His earthly ministry, scribes felt He was blasphemous. Yet Jesus knowing their hearts, didn't retaliate but went about performing miracles to fulfill the Messianic signs. 

Every Sunday, we sit at church all solemn and 'sacred', but only God knows what and where our hearts are. 

So while anyone (with the right tools and magic and sleight of hand) can heal and perform miracles, not all can say your sins are forgiven. Only Jesus had the power to heal and the authority to forgive. He is the only proof that everything can become new again.

If only we trust Jesus for our needs, he is not only ready to meet but exceed our physical and spiritual needs. Are you?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Righteous! | Manna for your Soul

The way of the righteous person 
I don't know about you, but I feel everybody today think they are righteous. 
The papers are filled with news of people who are angry at other people and people who want to protest against something or someone they don't believe in. 

We are all guilty of succumbing to righteous anger every once in a while. 
But sometimes we go overboard. Way overboard and that's when it gets toxic.

So, what is that fine line? Thankfully, the Bible has just the advice we need. 
Psalm 1 talks about righteousness. 
Breaking down the verses in the Psalm, we'll see there are 3 laws.

First the Law of dissociation
The wise man will guard his path and will have stability, grace and prosperity.
Say kind words and be considerate. 
On the contrary, the evil will become empty, futile and forgotten in time. 

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra, the famous American baseball player once said 'If you don't know where you are going, you won't know where you are when you get there'. True story!
Matthew keeps talking about the blessed man and about how the wise man will know how much of the world he needs in his life. 
Jesus has always preached and practiced how we must never allow ourselves to be of the world.
Because when you associate yourself with the ways of this world, your spiritual journey slows down. You'll realize you begin to walk with sinners, stand among the corrupt and sit with angry men.
Over the last couple of years, roasting celebrities in public have become vogue. Instead of talking good about people, our culture is  slowly turning into one where we want to talk bad about people and enjoy it.
Like how Eve did in the garden, calling ourselves Christians will not absolve us of our sins when we begin to compromise our values.
Like the story of the frog that gets cooked to death, what used to make us feel guilty about is now widely-accepted because we are now accustomed to declining moral and spiritual values. 

The second law within Psalm 1 is the Law of delight (Psalm 1:2-3)
A righteous person is someone who waits on the Lord.
They are spiritually grounded and know who they are. 
They know the Lords word and yes, they are prosperous in everything they do. 
Like the headlights of a vehicle that lights the darkened path ahead, the word of the Lord is a lamp to our feet.

In my years of struggle, I've prayed. Sometimes more earnestly than other times. But yes, I never stopped praying.
Over time, I've felt I was being pulled to Him like like the roots of a tree that reaches out to a water source (Jeremiah 17:8)

The third and final law is the Law of division (Psalm 1:4-6)
We may say Christ Christ and sing glorious hymns to Him and call ourselves everything holy, but those who have not acknowledged God in everything they think, say and do, from them the God will depart.
Matthew 7:23 says 'He will say - 'I never knew you. Depart from me'. Oh how shattering will that moment be! There won't be a greater sense of gloom, despair and hopelessness than when He tells me that I am not welcome in Heaven. 
But for the person who loves the laws of Christ (Joshua 1:8), getting to Heaven is just the beginning of everything joyous - Matt 25:33.

Its our choice. And that will have everything to do with how and where we will be on the judgement day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Life Extraordinaire | Manna for your Soul

We all have jobs to do. Some like working for a steady salary at the end of the month, others like the possibility of making their own fortune and then there is a third set of people who love neither. 

One of the most endearing quotes I remember growing up was something my dad told me - 'Never ever shirk from work. Make hay while the sun shines, because a day will come when you won't have the strength to earn nor the will to starve'. 

In his 40 plus years as a researcher, he never took a day off. 

The Bible is replete with instances of apathetic, dodgy and freeloading scumbags that we are all familiar with. When we see someone with a congenital disease or illness, we are quick to dismiss him/her as reaping the wages of sin. Yet, we rarely see how afflicted we ourselves are. 

Today, I'd like to draw your attention to one particular story that has always caught my attention. 

In John 9: 6-7, we see Jesus had just finished telling his disciples, and anyone who'd hung about him that as long as He is here on earth, He is the Light of the World. 
Perhaps He said this just as a prelude to what He was going to do next. 
Jesus spits on the mud, makes a clay patch out of the spittle and places it on the eyes of a man who was born blind. 
He then asks the blind man to go to the pool of Siloam, wash his eyes and return. 
Easy peasy!

I can almost picture this scene. People around Jesus would have wondered why he had to make a clay when He could simply place His hands on the blind man and his sight would have been restored. Surely, Jesus did far greater miracles until then.

I can imagine how the people may have groaned at the fact that Jesus spat on the ground and made a clay and placed the spittle loaded clay on someone's eyes. 
I can also imagine how the people would have wondered why Jesus is asking a blind man to walk a certain distance to do something he could have done right there. Surely, the man would have had a pitcher of water close to him.

But through all of this, many theologians forget to honor the blind man's faith. 

This man has been blind all his life, and probably has been hearing a lot about the Man who can do miracles. So when Jesus was finally within earshot, he must be been visibly elated and waiting for 'the touch' that can cure him. Probably give him his eyesight in an instant. 
So I can only imagine how disappointed he would have been when Jesus asked him to go wash the clay off his eyes to see again. Nevertheless and unlike many other people in the Bible, the blind man did what he was asked to do. He never questioned, he never mocked Jesus nor asked for any proof of concept. 
He simply obeyed!

Much earlier, in John 2: 7-10, Jesus asked the servants of the house to fill 6 jars of 30 gallons each with water. The servants might have wondered why they were being asked to do something they already know they should do. This was part of their job description after all. Yet they still decided to obey Him. What followed is hailed as His first great miracle. There is also another reason why Jesus chose to start His ministry here - Throughout the Bible, water is symbolic of life. And He wants us to know that just as the very touch of Jesus converted water to the finest wine in the wedding at Cana, only He can turn  an ordinary life into a life extraordinaire. 

Everytime I faced a problem at work, I've taken inspiration from the Colossians 3:23

We are allergic to work. We have an inherent need to oppose the mundane and chase the elusive. We drag our feet when we are asked to do something normal. Maybe that's why our problems exist. We expect extraordinary solutions to ordinary problems. 

Obey wholeheartedly. Be patient to His purpose in your life, and He will fill it up to the brim. Even though you won't understand how you deserved it.

The glory is His. The privilege of being a part of His life is ours.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A brutal way to die | Manna for your Soul

This post is long due and delayed because of the amount of research that went into this. 

A couple of weeks ago, I polled people about 'the most brutal and violent ways to die' online. 
I got a deluge of responses and many were simply shocked that I would ask such a question online. Some were curious and others were quite scandalized that I would even think of something like this. 
Many thought I had way too much time in hand, but I still did get a lot of interesting answers. 

Many believed a person would die a violent death if he/she is slowly and painfully tortured until life gives up. I didn't think it would be violent to be slowly and meticulously tortured, because while the physical injuries can be shocking, the body's capabilities to withstand and tolerate pain gradually increases to a point where the victim is either completely numb from the effects or has lost sensation in that part of the body and no longer is dying a brutal and violent death. 
Others thought, being shot or decapitated was a gruesome way to die. I doubt this qualifies since the speed of a bullet piercing or an object slicing through the body is so fast that many times, the victim won't even feel pain and may get dizzy and die only because of excessive blood loss. 
Some even thought burning/lynching is a good way to die hard. I don't think burning is painful enough, because our body releases endorphins and morphine to combat the pain the moment the top layer of the skin is signed. In most cases, as in instances where people die trapped in buildings on fire, the victims faint because of smoke inhalation and are not conscious when their bodies are completely charred. 
Personally, after witnessing how my dad valiantly fought cancer, thought accidental irradiation and lifestyle diseases like cancer and the prolonged treatment of radiation was the worst way to die. But my dad only got exhausted after weeks of painful cycles of radiation and at the end, he was happy to leave. Radiation isn't the worst killer here either.
But then a Jewish reader gave me a very interesting answer. One that answered several questions I had in my mind. One that brought back images so gruesome that people rarely talk about it anymore. 
Crucifixion. It was a brutal combination of some of the most painful ways to die.

The name brings up images of Jesus and his last moments on the cross. 

First used among the Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, Crucifixion was invented by the Romans in 300 - 400 BC as punishment for the most serious of criminals. The upright wooden cross was the most common technique, and the time victims took to die would depend on how they were crucified.
Jesus was the last known person to be sentenced to die on the upright cross, and in the year 337 AD, Roman emperor Constantine abolished Crucifixion. 

But how did the Crucifixion kill? Historians and theologians have agreed that Crucifixion is and shall remain the most gruesome, brutal and painful way to die. A quick search online for how crucifixion kills will tell you that suffocation because of the inability to breathe when
the victim's arms are stretched and nailed to either sides, massive loss of blood because nails are driven into major veins/arteries, over-exposure ultimately leading to multiple organ failure. In most cases, death would come before endorphins kicked in and many times, soldiers would break off the legs of the victims so that they died faster. 
Remember this was after the victim was sentenced to a pre-determined number of whips/lashes, which always had barbed wire or nails at the ends. With flesh exposed and the skin peeled away, the body will be going through a cycle of pain, shock and numbness until he/she is finally (and fatally) nailed to the cross. Let's also remember the victim didn't have a valet service for their cross. They often had to trek with their own crosses to the top of a hill. The victim would be laid down on the cross, their arms stretched out and nails driven into their wrists (severing the arteries and fracturing the wrist bones), their feet stacked upon a pedestal and nailed and then hoisted to an upright position on the perch of the hill for the rest of the country to see. The victim is then left conscious until they suffer from multiple organ failure, because they cannot exhale or inhale with arms pulled out of the sockets and unable to lift their bodies because their legs are broken, the victim is brutally aware of the way his/her body 'shuts down' and gives up. (Source: How did crucifixion kill)
Sometimes, victims were given psychotropic drugs/alcohol to prolong and multiply the brutality the body will inflict on the mind. 

See, now this makes sense to me. As a Christian, I now have a renewed sense of awe (if you may call it) and reverence to the amount of suffering that Jesus put Himself through. Christians are told that Jesus died for our sins. Yes, He did. It truly was the most brutal way to go. It was the only way to atone for generations of sin. Like a ginormous sponge to soak up a trillion liters of water, God realized that crucifixion was the only way possible to 'buy out' all our sins. 

If you've seen 'Passion of the Christ' or any other equally realistic portrayal of the Passion, you'd have wondered why He was put through the brutal lashes, the need to justify Himself, the moments where He was mocked, the fury from the crowds, stand the scathing insults from high priests and finally the sense of loneliness that He went through. Like some atheists would have questioned, this is something I have wondered - why the Crucifixion. Because that was how it was at that time. Today, as we hear of justice being denied or delayed merely because the law chose to thread a path the media and public chose, I am pained. 
As millions solemnly commemorate the way a nation put one innocent Man to a death He didn't deserve,  do you feel a eerie sense of deja vu?

Sunday, October 04, 2015

In the name of Jesus | Manna for your Soul

Christianity like many other religions have eloquent pray masters. I know people who will weep, cry out, use fluffy words and flowery phrases while praying. I know people who break out in to a hymn midway through a prayer. I know people whose tones will rise in a crescendo while praying. Their prayers are so long, I am pretty sure most people would just change the radio station in their heads and come back just in time to chime 'Amen'. 
But do we really need to have 30 minute prayers to get His attention? 
Do we really need to use articulated sentences and cliched requests to get His favor?

In the New Testament, Jesus taught us the Lord's Prayer. Newer denominations within Christianity have relegated the Lord's Prayer as a dietary supplement to our regular marathon prayers. 

Thankfully, John 14:12-14 gives us some very valuable insights into what is the only prayer we need. And I'll break it up as the 4A's of Prayer.

Association- Jesus is the way the truth and the life. There isn't a shortcut or a faster route to Heaven. Many people get disillusioned by how long they perceive it takes God to act. Well, it should. Because if God would have been hasty and passed judgement as fast as we'd liked Him to perform miracles, we'd all be banished long ago.

Access- We do not need a go between. Catholics worship the mother Mary, because they believe she is the go-in-between man and God. Many other religions worship long dead saints and deities for the same reason. The truth is we don't need a middleman anymore. He came, so that we would have a high-speed LAN connection with our Creator. How much better can it get?

Authority- Jesus is our authority. All inclusive... All authority.. All time. Period.

Agreement- Many years ago, when I was struggling in my career, and when I was laid off, I asked for His will in my life. It was difficult to admit defeat (after all, we are potty trained to never give up), but when I did ask Him to take over, things changed and my life has never been the same again. We must ask His will be done. Even when we know what we want, we must ask His will in our lives. 

This I pray in the Name of Jesus.

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