Showing posts with label The Word of God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Word of God. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Do-Gooders | Manna for your Soul

A good friend of mine believes that the path to Heaven is by doing good. 
He is the typical Christian. He tithes, sometimes less but more or less as much as he can to make it 10% and wears Jesus Christ on his sleeves. He believes Christians are beyond reproach and if you aren't a Christian, you are untouchable and hence unlovable. 
In short, if you aren't a Christian, you are dead to him. 

How very unlike Jesus Christ!

But this isn't very far from the truth from the rest of us. I see a lot of non-Christians, living in multi-cultural societies, think as long as they 'do good', they will earn a place in the Heaven that God promised all of us. But then their definition of 'doing good' isn't unconditional. 

While many other religious books talk about love, in the Bible, the greatest of all commandments is 'Love thy neighbour'. 

Many times, we think 'doing good' means 'doing nothing'. We rarely mull over the consequences of our words/actions when we should actually remember that 'Love does no harm to a neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilment of the Law'. (Romans 13:10).

Christ during His time on earth, didn't discriminate. As news of His healing powers spread, people from Asia and beyond visited Him. He never coaxed people of other faith to follow Christianity, but He did preach the Kingdom to them. His parables of mercy and love inspired them. People believed in Him because they found a person who had Godlike wisdom with the talents of a magician living a simple life too fantastic to not believe. Until His crucifixion, His disciples believed that Jesus would one day become an emperor of Israel and appoint them as ministers. The lure of unlimited power on earth was just too much for His followers at that time. 
Alas! How similar we are!
We proclaim our faiths through bumper stickers, yet we are up the wrong creek. We are prejudiced towards religious fanatics who kill and destroy lives, yet we see drivers, and it doesn't matter who your god is, curse and swear at other drivers and pedestrians. We see people in authority abuse their power and to many of us, this is okay, because we are too sensitised to the evil in our times. 

The next time you are faced with a choice of action that will affect the lives of other people, pause and ask yourself 'Does this reflect Christ's concern and love for others? Or am I only concerned about myself?'

Doing good isn't going to take care of your visa to Heaven. And it isn't just loving your neighbour next door, but developing faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness towards that random stranger who may not share your religious beliefs.
Showing how wonderfully Christlike we are, even in times of turmoil and anguish, is the only way we can redeem our spots in Heaven.

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. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Way Out | Manna for your Soul

Recently I lost my way within a multi-level parking lot. Twice. 
First, I couldn't find my car and when I did, couldn't find my way out of the massive labyrinth. After a futile search for an exit, I came close to panicking until a friendly parking lot attendant guided me out.

Life is a lot like this. 
It is really easy to get lost amidst the lawlessness, chaos, and busyness of our times. It's easy to fall into temptations and thanks to our frailties, there are many who choose the status quo than the right way out. 

It's night-time and you are in a hurry and you see empty roads and you want to jump the red light at the intersection. Do you stop for the lights to turn green or do you jump the red lights? While I've always waited for the lights to turn green, there were times when I felt I was being sucked into temptations. My mind tells me 'Go ahead, there aren't any cops around and no one's watching you'. I've seen many people proceed but there are people who watch me stop and choose to wait. 

Ofcourse, there are bigger temptations in life and falling into one can test your faith, and many people don't want to pick themselves up. It's far easier to go where the wind takes us and assume that God has forsaken/forgotten/given up on us. But it is equally easy to inspire other people to follow your good example(s). 
When good things happen, it's because of God's favor. However, when we lose our way in life, it feels like God has gone for fishing. 

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul reminds us that God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape. 

Everytime, I've had a dilemma in my life, I've asked God in prayer to sort it. In the beginning, I would ask Him what I wanted Him to do, but then I ended up getting even more muddled. Now, I only ask His will in my life. 
I know I can't see far ahead to understand how the situation can be fixed, but I now know He will. I know He isn't taking a break and hasn't abandoned me. Rather He is untying the knots I made just so that I can find a way to endure and survive it. Sometimes, there are just too many knots to untie!
He isn't waiting to punish me because He knows how stubborn I am. And like a patient parent, He never tires. He has allowed me to repeat my mistakes as many times as I needed before I finally learned from it. 

Today, you may think you are stuck or that you deserve to be stuck. You may think you don't have the inner strength to pick yourself up. Maybe it's a job that isn't taking you anywhere or a financial tight spot. Then maybe, it could be something in the past. 
Whatever it is, here's the truth - You don't deserve to be stuck and if only you calm your unsettled mind and ask yourself, you'll have the answer you seek. Because no matter how impossibly tough your situation is, God has already built in that strength and grace you need to get yourself out.
How do I know? 
Because if He could create someone like you and me - who according to the Psalmist, was fearfully and wonderfully made - then everything else is a walk in the park for Him. To me, those words are all that we ever need to feel reassured that we are not an accident but a very carefully planned creation. One that was built with everything we need for everything we might face.
The instructions are simple: Resist temptation at all costs, but if you did yield to it. Fret not and trust in God and yourself, for He knows exactly what you're going through and has just the perfect exit strategy for your worries!

In closing, I'm reminded of a story a pastor once told at a sermon.
One day as I was walking in my garden, I saw a beetle on the ground. It somehow landed on its back and was struggling to right itself. Its tiny legs were scrambling for solid ground, clawing at the air and as I stood there for a few seconds watching it, I realized it was tiring. Then I bent down and flipped it over and the beetle scurried away like nothing had ever happened. 
Surely, you and I are a heck of a lot more valuable to God than a beetle. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

'Why can't he just nod?' | Manna for your Soul

I am a hypocrite. 
One of the things that annoy me as a driver is when I am nice enough to give way to another driver and he/she doesn't even give me a nod or a thank you wave. I used to mutter 'How rude!' but then I remember the number of times I don't always acknowledge another driver's act of niceness everytime.

Now I'm a very polite person because I mind my P's and Q's and I value other people's time and life and whether it is a person who waits tables or the janitor, I always remember to say my P's and Q's. 

But it wasn't always like this. 
Back when I worked odd jobs for survival, I've been unceremonilously thrown out of homes and jobs. Some of my best life lessons have come from the most demeaning places I have worked in. Then I got into Customer Service and I realised the importance of being polite and not expecting anything in return.

Then I worked under a ruthless person. She was insecure and inexperienced in managing people and would bully me at work, mocking me and making me feel inadequate and worthless in front of everyone else. I'd lost all hope of working with integrity and honesty when I was being mistreated. 
That was when a colleague said something that stuck with me since - 'Work, not as if you are working for earthly masters, but as if you are working for the Almighty. Work with reverence knowing that your Father in Heaven sees your toil and anguish and He will reward you later.'
I took that advice and although I didn't stay in that company long, I forgave her for what she did. 

If you've ever felt thankless, then remember you aren't alone. 
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus healed 10 lepers. Only one returned to praise and thank Jesus. Not that Jesus needed to be thanked, but because he wanted to show his disciples the flipside of being Jesus. The part of a ministry where people don't always stick around to learn more when their work is done. Sounds familiar, right?

Many people start their days with a lot of expectations. We wake up fully expecting to be alive and content until bedtime. We expect complete strangers to be subserviant and eternally grateful to our presence. We expect our spouses to babysit us. We expect our friends to provide us emotional succour. We expect our colleagues and work-masters to acknowledge, praise and reward us for our work. We expect God to be the 'go ahead of me and fix all the potholes' kind of a guy and by the time we rest our heads on our pillows, we probably have been like the 9 lepers who got healed that day but didn't return to thank Jesus. 
So while we expect a lot of kind favors from everyone else, we rarely reciprocate. 

I am glad that I chose to work for as long as I did believing that I was not working for a malicious bully, but for Jesus. I survived the experience because I wanted to glorify Him through all that I went through. The experience of working under a person who mistreated me the way she did hardened my resolve to be kinder to total strangers. 

Today, as I give way to another motorist, I don't wait for their acknowledgement or a Thank You, but I smile back. Because I don't know the story of their lives, and I don't know why they are bitter, but I know when I smile back, they are going to pause and wonder why I smiled at them first. Maybe my smile will brighten their day a little and probably inspire them to 'pay it forward' one smile at a time. 

You don't have to be a Christian to be kind. If you are reading this post, you already have everything you need to practice random acts of kindness everyday. 

I dream of that day when we can step out of our homes and see people smile and not scowl at eachother. 
I am praying for that day when we make it our habit to be kind first. Because that day will be the most beautiful day ever!

God Bless You All!

Saturday, January 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.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Never forsaken, Never forgotten | Manna for your soul

What does Mogadishu, Baghdad, Karachi, Damascus, Kathmandu, Kabul and Chennai have in common with Paris and the United States?

In each of these places, people live with the paralyzing fear of being forsaken by their God. Ofcourse we all know how that feels, don't we? Each time we failed, each time we didn't get that job we wanted, everytime a cherished relationship broke, every moment of hurt. We would ask ourselves and God why He abandoned us. 

Many of us don't live in war-torn countries, and conflict-zones. Yet for my readers from Somalia, Iraq and Libya and other places, I pray continually that you find peace in your lives amidst the trauma and the pain. We may not know what you are going through, but our God - your Creator knows exactly what you are going through and He has complete control of your situations and everything that is happening in your lives and He has something huge in your lives.

How do I know He has control of all that happens in our lives? Well, there is plenty of proof that He does and little of that He doesn't have dominion over. In the book of Job, we see satan asking God's permission to test Job. I'll give you a moment to let that sentence sink in.
Our heavenly Father is so almighty that even satan had to ask Him for permission to even test Job. 
Our heavenly Father's word is so powerful that even satan will not disobey Him. 
Our heavenly Father is so delighted when we honor Him that He gushes with righteous pride and tells satan about happy He is with us. 
Our heavenly Father trusts us so much that He knows we won't stray. 
Our heavenly Father loves us so much that He blesses us in everyway that is important to us. If it is wealth, you will be wealthy. If it's family, the love and devotion of family members. If it's career, success. If it's material possessions, then everything you need will be yours. 

Now how do we know He has something epic in your lives? From Genesis to Revelation, we have many many examples of people who led ordinary lives like yours and mine. We have examples of people who heard the Word of God, strayed and then returned to the Shepherd and was completely forgiven and cleansed. Examples of people who chose to be the least of the disciples but became chosen vessels in His hands. 
I've written about the transformation in my life a couple of times before and for people who know me personally know about my journey so I know I have experienced the very powerful way my Lord and Savior Jesus has worked in my life.
Wrapping a long story short, at a time when I was spinning my wheels in my personal and professional life, Jesus caused a former partner in my life to walk out of my life. While it was painful, what she did pushed me closer to God. I did slip and falter, but God always picked me up, dusted me and set me back onto the right path. 
Prayer is my spiritual steroid and I now know that no matter what happens in my life, I'll always have the tools I need to handle it. 
And the truth is - You can have it too! 
You don't need to buy fancy equipment to talk to Him. You are already the best instrument God has created. 
You don't need phony healers and televangelists perform a 'miracle' on you to feel God's presence in you.
Just speak to Him. 

You may not know all the verses or the books of the Bible by rote. But He loves it when you converse with Him. He trusts you to trust Him. 

Satan is real and he will tempt you. The biggest lie he has ever propagated in humanity is the feeling of being forsaken by God. Would you like to know the truth? Read the Bible. Read the book of Job. What Job went through is something most of us will identify with. He had everything, lost everything, everyone. He went through moments of despair and unspeakable grief. He could have cursed God but he didn't. Just like us.
If there is a lesson we need to learn, this is it  - God has said 'Never will I forsake you, never will I leave you' Hebrews 13:5.

God ain't leaving you. Not now. Not ever. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Don't leave me and go | Manna for your soul

When we leave our families, when our loved ones leave us, separation is painful.

This past week, I lost my son. Well, not a human son, but Snoopy was a son in every other way. He came into my life 2 years ago as a month old pup. Fist-sized, he was love at first sight. The little bundle of fur filled a vacuum in my life. 
He taught me invaluable lessons of love, forgiveness and patience.
He would pine for me, when I was away and shower me with love when I was back. As a pup, he would go through separation anxiety when I was away even for a few hours. Through days of conditional training and incentives, I gradually made him feel secure and less anxious when I was not at home. 

But when I lost him a week ago, I went through excruciating separation anxiety. I shuttered myself from the world. Totally disconnected. I simply couldn't grieve enough. I was consumed with guilt and questions of 'What if..'. I wanted to dig a hole and bury myself. 
Many felt the pain I was feeling and then a good friend and fellow blogger said something that rang a bell in me - 'Snoopy came into your life for a reason. What was it?' 
Snoopy came into my life when I was reeling with a failed relationship. People who knew me well, understood how Snoopy filled my emotional needs as a father. 

He was my furry son and for the short time that he was in my life, he changed me in a way that sculpted me forever. 

I realized my shortcomings and my strengths and now as he is no longer with me, I remember the way he would look for me when we would play Hide & Seek, wait for me to wake up so that he could lick me again, wait for me to bathe him so that he could run all through the house and mess himself up, wait to be walked so that he could do his business and then walk me through the neighborhood. 
I still suffer from separation anxiety but I finally understand what the disciples went through when Jesus would tell them about His time to leave. In John 14:15-21, Jesus comforts His disciples by promising to send them the Holy Spirit.

God hasn't forsaken us. We have the Holy Spirit, just the way He promised us. He advocates and champions our cause. He waits for us, when we stray and rejoices when we return to Him. 
We have to trust Him just the way Snoopy would trust me when I would walk him through dark and unknown streets. 

Thankfully, we don't have to feel anxious about our unseen God. The Bible reassures us that no matter what, God is never too far from us. 

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. 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Life's Greatest Secret Revealed | Manna for your Soul

Over the past couple of months, I've been meeting people from all faiths and one of the common questions I hear is 'What is the meaning of our life?', 'What is the purpose of our being on this planet?' 

In the Bible, the book of Psalms is perhaps one of the most evergreen prophetic verses in the old testament. Psalm 92 talks about being fruitful at every stage of your life. 
Psalms 92:12-14 tells us how God has a plan for your life and a way of using you*. 

You could be a Hindu, a Moslem, a Sikh or a Christian. No matter what we call Him, we are but clay in His hands. The true test of a believer is when you live your life as if it were your last. 

In the past, every time I was in a difficult situation, I'd curse God because I felt He was not protecting me from evil. Like a capricious child, I would fret and frown about why He abandoned me. My daily prayer time would be another opportunity to blame Him and justify myself and promises to be good and do good and offer more tithes. Sounds familiar right?
Over time, I realized that Gods sovereign rule will reign over our lives and He positions us exactly where we have to be at that point of time. 

The bedrock of Christianity is - Continuous spiritual growth and fruitfulness does not come automatically. But then again, if you look carefully this is the foundation of all religions too.

In John 12:24, we read about how to be fruitful we have to die to this world. Surprisingly this explains the fundamental beliefs of jihadis and religious fanatics. What this scripture actually means is to detach yourself from the tentacles of this world so that you can be truly spiritually fruitful. To be selfless, start with being less selfish. 

Social scientists have proven that each person has a direct influence on 20 different people. Over the past several years of blogging, I've made good friends with people from around the world. Anonymous people who share my views on several things. Now, I've never met these people, but the bond we share is no less strong. Today as I write exclusively on spirituality, I feel I am finally getting to do God's will in my life. But I was not always this way. 

It took years and months for me to get to this point where I could write about His word. 
Like bamboo that takes months and weeks to build roots and Palm trees that take 15-30 years to be productive, as a young believer I needed years of TLC from Him to get to where I am today. As a writer, this is how I serve Him. 

And the best part is - God promises us that whatever we do in His name will flourish. How powerful is that!

Verses 13-14 tells us that He is willing to use us anytime and anywhere. Looking back, I can now see how he has used me when I was going through painful separations from parents and loved ones, and I now realize that He put me through this so that I can now speak about it and comfort those who are going through pain in their lives. 

Author and christian minister Matthew Henry wrote 'The last days of saints are sometimes the best days and the last walk the best walk'. 

So why is He giving us all this? Surely, there could be something that He wants from us, right? Yes, there is. 
Like a parent who gives everything to their child but wants nothing but unabashed and unconditional love in return, God wants us to glorify him. That's all! In all that we do, He wishes that we glorify Him. 

Today, if you are wondering how He can use you where you are at this moment, consider this thought - Trees are not planted by accident and mountains are not an anomaly. You don't have to be a theologian. Like everything in nature on earth and in the little we know but cannot fathom and the vast universe of what we do not know, you are not an accident. Why?
Because if God could place us on a planet that was just the right place at the right galaxy on the right constellation on the right universe, then He surely has a massively grand plan for YOU*. 

God gives us the reason for lively praise for his goodness towards us and whether you are young child growing up or an old person into your sunset years, know that the best is yet to come when you let Him.

*But are you willing to let Him use you?

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?

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