Showing posts with label Spirituality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spirituality. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Holy Singing Liars! | Manna for your soul

Many of the 'New Age Life' churches that I've visited start their 'services' with 45 minutes of 'praise and worship' to get their believer's all pumped up in time for the sermon. In most times,  'believers' are asked to stand, clap, hop and tap their feet to sing and show their undying allegiance to Jesus. Karaoke-style

Many of these 'hymns' are contemporary songs created by gospel artists from the West and are vastly different from the hymns that most Christians would hear at 'plain-vanilla' catholic and protestant churches. 
They have lyrics, that can be understood by someone at a 5th grade (or lower) level of education, set to upbeat tunes. Most of these songs have repetitive chorus lines and words that hymn-writers wouldn't have imagined incorporating until a few decades back. 
A church isn't complete if you don't have 'contemporary hymns' exclaiming with painful repetitions of 'Jesus, You are all I need' 15 times until the 'praise and worship Leader' transcends into tears, breaks into a sober prayer and transitions to the next song. Repeat cycle.

Now I am okay with churches starting their services with praise and worship but why should we be asked to sing a lie? Jesus isn't all I need!
Because even as we are singing this, our minds are going through a shopping list of things we want Jesus to do for us. 
We want more money.
We want to be more attractive.
We want to win the heart of that person.
We want to be able to do all those things we see other people do on facebook.
We want to live glorious, envy-causing, 'Like'-inspiring lives. 

We may sing 'Jesus, You are all I need' 256 times every single Sunday, but you and I know that ain't the truth. And church leaders are okay propagating this lie because that's not what our heart is saying.

Two of my favorite contemporary hymns are 'I surrender all' and 'What a friend we have in Jesus'. Because even though I know I haven't been able to let go of everything I should be letting go off, I know the lyrics of this hymn serve as a gentle reminder that inspires me to let go of things that cause needless pain and anguish. 

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! 

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms he'll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

I find the slow chorus of both the hymns very soothing and it definitely isn't in the same league as some of the peppy 'numbers' our modern churches play, but the lyrics strike home every single time. 

  • Do you have something that is bothering you today? 
  • Are you constantly 'looking over your shoulder' for what might happen to you tomorrow?
  • Does your pulse quicken everytime you think about the future?
If the answer to any of this is 'Yes', then you need to empty yourself and take it to the Lord in prayer. 
It doesn't matter how you address Him, what matters is you surrender yourself right now, right here. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story | Book Review

Having known Dr Benny as my personal saint, counselor and pastor, I am honored that I was asked to write my first book review for his latest book My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story.

This book is recommended reading for anyone who has been hurt. Ever
If you have gone through times in your life where you doubted God's plan for you, then you need to read what Pastor Benny has to say. 

The first thing that you'll notice when you start reading the book is the Dr Benny's spiritual foundations. Partly autobiographical, reading this book makes you realise how God allows His children, even the ones He chooses to do His work, to go through a process of spiritual refinement. 

By the time I was mid-way through the book, I was welling up with tears and having gone through something similar in my workplace many years ago, I could understand his hurt. And this is exactly what I needed to read to heal. 

My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story gives you a glimpse into the personal and professional trials and tribulations that Pastor Benny went through and is a handy guide for anyone who wants to heal. 
There are many things I liked about the book. I loved the easy imagery that he puts in our minds. As I kept turning the pages, I found myself traveling along with him, through the countryside, the roads and the cowboys, feeling the same hurt that he felt, the betrayal, angst and the depression. 
His style of writing is relatable and easy going. His methods simple and his advice enriching. 

'My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story' is born out of years of experience living with and coming to terms with wounds that people can inflict on you, with practical advice on how to come out to the other side stronger than ever.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pastor Benny's book and I am sure you will too. 
In the words of Po, the Kung Fu Panda 'Wounds heal, scars fade away..'
Let the healing begin!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Got Comfort? | Manna for your Soul

Last week, when I wrote about how God has a purpose in everything and for everyone in this life, a lot of people wrote to me about how they aren't able to see a purpose in the suffering in their lives. 
Sometimes, we go through needless pain agonizing about how God could abandon us. Our prayers are wrapped around a bundle of deceit where we tell Him how we deserve better. 

About 15 years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer of the colon, we were shattered. I remember the moment like it was an hour ago. I looked up the meaning of 'Oncology' as my dad's eye filled up with tears. Doctors gave him 3 years. After a colectomy, he went through months of painful chemo and radiation therapy. While he made peace with what happened and made the best of what was left until he passed on when the cancer spread to other parts of his body. I saw the pain, the anguish and the helplessness in the eyes of a man who once was on the other side of the petri-dish. 

I admired the way he fought the stigma and the debilitating effects of cancer. Unlike other diseases, there isn't much left to do, there isn't a way you'll come close to understanding how crippling the pain can be and through it all, I realized cancer is a very humbling disease. He might have wondered why God let this happen to him, but he never once uttered it. He still prayed for the destitute, the homeless, the poor and the orphaned. He could have become bitter, but he never did. 

Years after he left, I still think about the way he suffered and marvel at the way God used him to teach me lessons in compassion. I now know a lot more about cancer than I knew then. My heart utters a silent prayer everytime I hear about a person who has cancer only because I know the pain secondhand. More than what the body goes through, I know the inexplicable pain in the heart. 

I have volunteered among patients because I know they won't have too many other people who will want to be around them. I have seen patients in the terminal stages, who can't afford any more of the expensive treatment and are left to rot away. I have seen maggots in open wounds of patients who were left to die because 'it simply isn't worth their time and effort' anymore. I've seen patients who live their every day because they know they may not live to eat the next meal. 

Not many survive that long either. 

So I've tried as little as I could to bring a smile to their faces. To the faces of their caregivers. 
Many ask me what did daddy do to die early? I won't know. 
Was daddy a saint? No. 
Yet, God chose to use him so that his son would do the things he did to random strangers who are going through worse. 

Isn't this what 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 also teaches us?
Suffering doesn't have a religion. Maggots don't discriminate and diseases couldn't care less what your God's name is. 
When daddy in his final breath said 'I am happy', he meant it. The Lord isn't a delivery service, but He sure knows how to do things in the most powerful way. 

Today, if you ask me - 'Would you like to undo something in your past?', I would say 'No'. 
Our God is The God of All Comfort. The peace that He can give you is something you and I cannot even begin to wrap your head around. He can use you not in the way people use you. And the good news is - Nothing He has touched has ever gone awry. All that he asks is - to allow Him an opportunity to experience His comfort and to have the heart that will comfort others as well. 

Because He has never and won't ever let anything happen to you that He knows you cannot handle. 

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