Jan 16, 2016

Precious like that | Manna for your soul

How do you feel when you lose something really precious to you?
Terrible, right?
How do you feel when you lose something really precious that you didn't pay for? Something you got as a gift, something someone else paid for and you get to use it for free. I know lots of people who cherish gifts they get from their loved ones. Nothing else could be more precious to them than that gift from that special person. I'm sure many of you reading this will identify with this and if you've lost it, you'll realize the pain of losing this precious gift.

The Holy Bible is His user's manual for the free gift of Life and Redemption His Son purchased for us. 
And like all any other helpful literature we have, this is yet another manual we just don't want to read. We are all self-confessed experts in the art of living. Until we screw ourselves up. Until we are afflicted with cancer. Until we lose that loved one. Until that marriage breaks up. Until our death beds.

Almost every Christian has atleast 2 bibles in their mantle-place. Maybe more if you love showing the ones you got from your uncles and aunts. 
None by their bedside. 
Almost every Christian has heard the good news. Every Sunday. We are all really pepped up by preachers who dissect the Bible in their own unique ways. 

Which brings me to a very important situation in our times - The importance of being earnest and honest with His Word. 
Over the last couple of weeks and months, I've been to dozens of churches where preachers and speakers use the Bible to defend one side of an issue, while others use the Bible to attack that same issue. Now, according to themselves, they are right because they are both using the Scripture to support their radical views. But surely both can't be right. 

The Bible is His written instructions to us and if we can't use His Word in the exact way He intended, then we aren't any better than the rest. If people who are supposed to lead us in His Word lead us astray, then surely, surely, they have sinned in a serious way.
And if you have heard His Word but can't live it until Friday, then you have sinned as well. 
When our spiritual leaders misrepresent and mishandle the Word, they distort God for the rest of us. 

So after decades of being deceived, our perception of God is the following:
  • God is the Ironman, Superman, Hulk, Goddess Kali, Santa Claus, and a dozen other superheroes rolled into one.
  • God, the super-villain, will punish you as soon as you have sinned. Infact the 'more pious' among us think it is more important to confess to priests and pay penance when you have sinned, else you are doomed. 
  • God is slow to grace and quick to anger. Infact He won't forgive you unless you feel utterly shitty about yourself.  
  • God wants you to pay up. Cough up those dollars for some salvation. 
  • God is your personal concierge and genie with no limits or fine print.
  • God is your PR and agent. He is that guy who can get things done in your favor.
  • God is the kind of guy you visit every Sunday in your finest casuals.
But the truth cannot be further from the truth. The Scriptures tell us 'When He gets up from His throne, the heavens will tremble and withdraw' (paraphrased ofcourse), but I want you to hold this thought for a moment. He is so mighty that He cloaks Himself in light and glory. 
Yet, He loves us so much that when Jesus was being crucified on that cross, your name was one of the trillions of names that He thought of. 

Yes, He died for Navin Samuel Mathew.

I can only imagine the pain of Our Father when Jesus chose to die for me. I can barely imagine the countless angels who would have been ready to save The Son.
I cannot imagine the anguish of Our Father as He saw every labored breath of His Son escape His Son's earthly body. 
When we watch news and movies of epic battles and the sheer volumes and military might of our superpowers and their foes, I can imagine how much more powerful His army of angels are. Maybe God was ready to let to destroy the human creation to save His Son. Ofcourse He did it once when he flooded the earth and nearly got rid of every one because we all disobeyed Him. This time He actually should have, because we put His only begotten Son through the worst form of death
But He didn't. Jesus saw the greater good in sinners like me. To Him, I was more precious than Himself. Probably as precious as His Father was to Him. And the best part is, Jesus did it with so much love and compassion!

This new year, make a pact to yourself.
Don't be just a ceremonial and ritual worshiper of Christ, but a doer of the Word. 
Live the Word - One hour at a time. 
Decide to build a foundation based on His Word, unadulterated and pure. Because when you do this, you have the key to weather all the storms that life will serve. The best news is - No matter how old you are, no matter how much you have sinned, it's never late.

Jan 1, 2016

Ze List v4.0 | Manna for your soul

Yes, it's that time of the year when billions of people around the world, will transcend language, religious faith and borders, to celebrate the end of one year and celebrate the beginning of the next. 

And its time for Ze List.
The world has been changing and so has Ze List. This year, I look at all the ways we survived amidst all the chaos and I hope this serves as a mirror to ourselves and hopefully a way to correct our course for the year ahead.


Our Father..
We clutched at straws of faith for some peace and grace from our heavenly Father.
Since the dawn of time, we have been fighting. 
In the beginning, it was for sustenance and to survive. Today, we fight over perceived hurt and imagined supremacy. 
We fought, killed, plundered. All in His name. Its always a wonderful when we say we are fighting for God, because if someone dares question the supremacy of my God, that qualifies me to eliminate him. After all, nearly all of our religious texts allow us to take an eye for an eye. Do we need a better reason to kill?

Who art in Heaven
We reached out to the heavens, to planets nearby. Our space missions made mammoth strides and we sat back and marveled. It is said traveling, like astronomy, is a humbling activity. It broadens our perspective and makes us realize how puny and futile our thoughts and aspirations are. 
We don't have to search far and wide, because the Heaven of our Father isn't in outer space. It is within you, within each of us. 

Hallowed by Thy name.
Which brings me to why we wanted to kill.
Back in the Middle Ages, Christian armies of the West plundered and decimated populations that didn't share their faith. Ofcourse, they were just doing what was right.
Today, radical Muslims think their brand of Islam should prevail and everyone should be a Muslim. ISIS isn't doing anything that the West hasn't already done in the past. Yet we find this atrocious and alarming. Suddenly, everyone wants to brand Islam evil. Every Muslim is a terrorist and every Christian, the defender of humanity. When did it become evil to be ambitious. 

Thy Kingdom come..
False prophets and doctrines have always tried to predict the apocalypse. The prophets don't want you to read the portion of the Bible that tells us that He will return at a time of His choosing, and at a time when we are most distracted. Major TV networks like God TV have been prophesying the End Times since the last many years. Gullible viewers have been coerced to donate millions because we need to prepare Israel, God's chosen land, for His coming again. I don't have anything against Israel but what about the millions who live in squalid conditions right in our backyards? There are millions who go to bed hungry every single night. There are millions who will die a death that we can prevent within the next 365 days. 

Thy Will be done..
In the many lessons I've learned in the last decade or so, I've realized one truth - We must be obedient to His will, and patient to His purpose.
As sure as we are about the year that just passed, we can be sure that we will all have moments in the year ahead when our obedience and patience will be tested. 
We will have situations that will tempt us to do what we want instead of what He wants. We will have times when we question His purpose and refuse to wait on Him. Today, resolve yourself to be more obedient and patience than the year that just passed.

On earth as it is in heaven.
As creatures that come with an 'Use by' date, we must realize that we will all die a certain death. Not one of us will have immortal lives. Yet, there are people who have walked this earth, whose lives continue to inspire us. People whose lives changed the course of humanity, not by force but by pure inspiration.
So the question here is - What are you doing today that will guarantee you an immortal life? 

Give us this day our daily bread
Many of us are capable of meeting our primary needs of food, clothing and shelter. Yet, as we make our weekend trips to our places of worship, we will drive by people who are less fortunate than us. I find it strange that we are patient enough to sit through a 45 minute discourse on being charitable, compassionate and forgiving yet we can't seem to practice it in our lives everyday. You and I don't pray for our daily bread, but there are people who have been praying for theirs. Are we ready to answer their prayers?

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us
'To err is human, to forgive is divine' is a phrase that gave birth to a more popular modern mutant - 'To err is human, to forgive is not mine'. 
We might chuckle at the humor of this, but there is more truth to this than we'd like to admit. 
Our species has turned in to one large village where we are just itching to fight with someone, anyone who dare bump into us in the wrong way. Many Western countries (and Russia) have been waging multi-billion dollar wars that sprouted out of nothingness and their perceived sense of hurt. 
The Americans and their allies have been fighting wars since the last decade and half and I'm amazed how futile all their technology has been in getting the job done. The Russians haven't seemed to learned any lessons here.
Is this a good time to remind them that we must learn to forgive more eagerly and earnestly today than to sign a truce to end a needless conflict tomorrow?

Lead us not into temptation
Billions got hooked to consumerism. We are tempted to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't care with money that we could have used for better causes. 
My parents come from a major city in the southern Indian State of Kerala, where until about a few years ago, people lived simple lives. Honest and laid-back lives. People didn't worry about credit cards and loans were something that only the under-privileged and the over-ambitious took. 
Today, people worry about not having that SUV if their neighbor already has a sedan. Families flock to over-sized glitzy malls to gawk at designer brands and gobble on food like they haven't eaten in ages. 
Back in Europe and the West, people and their governments have been slipping deeper into a debt that threatens to pull in anyone else who will lend an helping hand. 

But deliver us from evil
ISIS isn't the only evil of our times. ISIS is just the collective expression of millions of people who have suffered from oppressive Western governments. Governments that have discriminated and persecuted Muslims for years, because it was the easiest thing to do. 
Today, Western citizens depend on their governments to protect and deliver them from evil. If results are anything to go by, this is but a false sense of security. 
As Indians in India, we don't need to look beyond our shores to understand what discrimination is. Nearly every person living in India would have faced some form of discrimination in their lives and this is true no matter which country you are in. 
We prefer to be cloaked in a false sense of security, rather than in prayer.

For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory
In the last decade or so, millions of people have lost their homes and the livelihood and loved ones, because of wars, man-made conflicts, human disasters and natural calamities. Recent statistics show that there has been a 100% increase in the numbers of refugees, in the year 2015 alone. Governments refused to open their homes and their borders to this exodus of humanity. Countries that were built on immigrants didn't want anything to do with this human crisis. 
These are the same countries who will talk eloquently about compassion and charity. 

For ever and ever..
I don't know about the 'forever' part of my life. I don't know when I will be taken off the shelf because I reached my expiry date. Millions of people who will party to welcome the new year will not survive to party by the end of 2016. Our earth, on the other hand, will outlive and outlast every single one of us. How we treat our earth will reveal our true inner-self. 
Because we can't depend on governments to do our hard work. 
Because unlike us, our politicians won't have to live through the consequences of their decisions. 
Because earth is the only place we can survive on, let's make our stand here and now.

I hope you've all had a wonderful learning experience in the year that just passed and I pray that we all survive to read my post next year. 
Personally, and as always, I have a lot to thank God for this year. 
'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' successfully transitioned into a blog where I write posts on spirituality as opposed to social and political satire. 
While rankings slipped, I am finally glad that I am touching atleast some of you through my interpretation of words in the Bible and I hope to inspire you to touch someone else's life too - in your own unique way.

Amen!
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