Sunday, November 19, 2017

The time of refreshing.

Today the preaching at the church was from ACTS 3 vs 1-9,one of my favourite anecdote in all of the bible.Whenever I read this episode it strangely touches me.Apart from the fact that it has some connection to my early childhood in my hometown where the sunday school teacher used to teach us this song and we as little children in all innocence used to sing these songs at the top of our voices,whether in the sunday school or otherwise.
The event goes that Peter and John are walking into the temple to preach the word of God and as they cross the gate called 'beautiful'to the temple a lame beggar eyes them and asks them for alms.Peter and John walk upto him and say,'Silver and Gold have I none,what I have I give to you,in the name of Jesus of Nazereth,stand up and walk.'The text says ,the beggar not only stood up and started walking but started jumping and praising the Lord.Further more it says that he clung to Peter and John and all the Jews there started looking at them in awe and that is when they say,'Ye men of Israel why do you marvel at this and why do you look at us like as though by our power and holiness we have made this man walk......' and they continue to preach Christ.
This anecdote speaks the very basis of what we are for and where we stand and what we ought to be doing.There is such a thin margin between being a beggar in the gate beautiful and being Peter and John.This question is valid in the lives of all humanity unfortunately for some of us believers included.
The portion the pastor stressed on was the need for repentance and conversion so that 'the times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord'.
For the beggar in the gate beautiful and the people of that town in Israel,'the time of refreshing'came because Peter and Paul stepped out in faith and the Lord honoured it.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tipping point

Church today was at Dominion with the Hillsong.The preaching was from Nehemiah,a highly inspiring message.
1)Passion is a heart thing.
Nehemiah's heart was at the right place.The only qualification that mattered to God was that the heart be at the right place.
What does your heart break for?Sometimes it is good to offend the mind,things become clearer.
2)Action is trusting-It takes a lot of trust to act.We are the move of God.We are not born winners or losers but we are born choosers.One thing that keeps us from taking action is the fear of failure and in the real world we do fail but the moment we own our failure ,we own our fear.We are on a mission for God's vision.
3)Sometimes it takes somebody from outside to detect that the walls are broken.For the Israellites,the broken wall was the norm .That was how they had seen it perhaps most of their lifetime.It took a Nehemiah who was outside to see it,weep for it and facilitate the process.
We are called to be a Nehemiah for the rest of the world.
He shared that the hillsong church was built on foundation of sacrifices from individuals.
4)Others caught on the vision of Nehemiah and joined hands in collaberation.Collaberation is a together thing.Live,love and lead.
We collaberate with Jesus to build something eternal
There were some people who refused to cooperate with Nehemiah in the venture and made fun of him.They went down into eternity as people who did not show up.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Strange goodbyes..

Saying goodbye has never been too hard for me.
Today I had to say goodbye to someone who was on his way home supposedly to spend the next few days of his life.
With all the strange toxins in the blood that would drive a normal person crazy Mr X is unusually alert.The entire time he was in,I had to negotiate with him for every part of his management.Like a kid I had to kneel down before him and sweet talk him into allowing us to do anything at all.Finally when he realised things were serious he relented only to go three steps back and then the negotiations would start all over again.Each time I crossed the room he would give me the sweetest smile from the heart.That coming from a person whose kidney has literally stopped functioning for several days with a background of multi organ compromise is strange to say the least.
One fine day he decided he wanted to go home,his children arranged for care at home and he left.Just before going he thanked me for all the care I had given him.
Where do people draw such grace from at a critical juncture like this?
One day when I was crossing by his room I saw him looking up.I have said many prayers for him.I had hoped he would be a miracle we would see with our own eyes but it was not to be,I still pray that a miracle it might be,away from our eyes.
I will miss him in the wards.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Persecution


Over the last few days I have been getting this prompting to write about christian persecution.
I was not sure why ,today I realise it is the international day of prayer for persecuted christians.
I got a message early this morning about how in a village church some fundamentalists had stopped a church service of simple tribal folks but some unknown people had beaten the fundamentalists black and blue.
Now the organisation was all out to close down the church.I have visited that simple village.The tribals are dirt poor and suffer from depression,mental illnesses,etc.It was a precarious situation for the goodman's family .Just going around with him was frightening enough he lives amongst the majority caste.His little son in all innocence can be quiet vociferous about his belief.This was the place where I saw an old man working alone to build the church brick by brick with his own hands in his land.That poor tribal man had a vision so big that it could very well touch eternity.I was deeply touched even as he bent down to remove grass stuck on my skirt,but I also sensed persecution in the future.
Going back to the Word ,Jesus in several places has mentioned persecution .
John 15-vs 18-20
'If the world hates you......
If they have persecuted me ,they will also persecute you...'
1st Peter 1 vs 7
'The trial of your faith....'
Mathew 5,vs 11
'Blessed are you when people insult you,persecute you......'
Today the bible reading was from ACTS 8 where the chapter starts with the anecdote of the persecution that broke out against the church in Jerusalem.About Saul leading the way ,persecuting christians as he destroyed churches.
This very Saul,aka Paul was a chosen vessel of Christ ,became a means of salvation for the gentiles and the author of most of new testament.
What is this good news that it catches like fire.I heard one of the Jew pastors saying that a person who reads the new testament twice word to word would have no other choice,but to accept Christ as the Lord and savior.
The Word of God is it's own defence.When I was in school I used to have innocent enough classmates who had the fear of the bible.In their superstition filled faith they had been forbidden to touch any form of christian literature.Now they are believers and attend different churches,I hear.
I hear of persecution ,it was foretold by our lord.
I was deeply inspired by the story behind Chris Tomlin's 'Whom shall I fear'where the writer when going through a personal challenge goes back to the anecdote in 2 King's 6 where the King of Aram sends his army to capture Elisha the prophet and when his servant sees the army of the king he is frightened,Elisha tells him,'Don't be afraid ,those who are with us are more than those who are with them.'And he prays that God open his servants eye to see.Then the servant sees the hills full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.
We worship the same God.
Persecution is to be expected but at the backdrop of persecution is the larger than life images of revelation where the angel of the Lord writes to different churches and commends those churches who are able to overcome and persist inspite of all odds and most of all the promise Romans 14 :11-'....every knee will bow...'and Revelation 20,21,and 22 that seals it all.
In the mean time may we have very many testimonies of God's faithfullness ....against all odds.
For'the earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea.'Habakkuk 2:14.



My sheep will know my voice.....



Today once again the church was beautiful with a report on one of the countries the pastor couple had visited.
A tiny country which had an official census of one beleiver in 1951 has around 1-2 million beleivers as of today.
The churches are an epitome of new testament churches from the ACTS.
1)Factors that have led to church growth are healing from sickness,
2)rejection of highly binding and superstition filled old religion.They have known the truth and truth has set them free.
3)The drastic changes they see in the lives of the believers.
The takeaway lesson they took from the experience was that the Lord is sovereign.
While trekking through the mountains and walking close to the Lord the song above brought much comfort to the pastor.
We heard the song in the church today.
May it be our prayer.

Snap-shots.

As you travel through life,snapshots of moments hit you as you travel along.You capture it or you let it pass.Somethings are worth reminding oneself of.
I have been blessed by parents who have all their lives lived a life of living faith.Their prayers have been a lifeline that has carried them through life.Now when I look back I wonder at their wisdom and the richness of their lives.My mother taught the sunday school and then carried it onwards to teach small kids their first ABCs in the church in the week days when our district had no concept of primary schools.She read us bible stories from small children books and we had our family prayers every night at home.Often you would find dad and mom spontanaeusly share in the course of the day how the Word of the lord reprimended them in a certain course of action.It was never preachy,it was very often shared in a sheepish manner.
The other culture my parents cultivated with great care is entertaining missionaries .We had men and women of God visit and stay in our house all our lives.My mother never tired of hosting them with a certain amount of reverance.
Living in the countryside has it's advantages,we are in very many ways not counting the pennies like the city folks.With very faithful people who served us,some actually life-long we lived ,now I gather a dream of a childhood.I remember us five siblings sitting by the fire in the evening and watching the servants eat the mountain of their meals and my brother doing a running football commentary as they made their way through the pile.We were too young and innocent to understand that they might have been embarrased and they were tired after a days work to care too much I think.
There were two star housekeepers,one served lifelong ,I guess we were his family and the other more than twenty years.One was a brahmin from Nepal apparently from a good family and the other had family members in the oppositte hill but no home as such.Their faithfulness to the family are legendary.Then there were people who came and went,many of whom we never got to get acquainted with. I remember the season for rice harvesting,it used to be a busy time.Host of men and women in colourful clothes used to dance on the rice sheafs in the field.These were labourers from nepal and they made a proper occasion of the event.The place used to come alive with people making rice flakes and I used to be the rare child who loved it and so used to sit with the servants eating it straight from the crusher even as it took shape.My parents used to find it amusing.
Cardomom harvesting time was a time of family gathering.All our cousins from the town used to camp in my hometown to take stock of their own produce.It also used to be a time when we had our family dinners almost every night,picnics and invitations to the house of the sarders who managed our cardomom.We loved the traditional meals in these houses.We used to weave our imagination around different landmarks and spend time with our tenants who would go out of their way to keep all of us entertained.
Thank God,there was no television when we were kids.I remember mom playing the early morning christian programme in radio Ceylon.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Life support

Letting a loved one go is a difficult process.
The decision to stop the life support is I guess a harrowing one.The decision mostly lies with the doctor but the patient's kin is taken into consideration before any such step is taken.One Mr X was by his hallucinating wife's bed-side everyday.I was not looking after that patient but one day when I was crossing by ,she cheerfully called out to me and pointed to the window and kept insisting that the child at the window was bugging her.We were on the fourth floor of the window of the only building.When the time came to stop the lifesupport,we were doing the difficult job of explaining things to the husband and he was obviously finding it very difficult to come to a decision.Suddenly one of my senior colleagues explained that he did not have to carry the burden of having made the final decision because the final decision lay with the doctor.The fully grown man just started weeping,in confusion,in relief,in sadness and I am not sure what else it was.
Medical profession is a venerated place where we allow utter strangers into the most vulnerable and hurting parts of our lives.We are given access to the pain of our society.How we react to the hurt is very different.
In India when disaster strikes,there is a commotion....there is screaming,yelling everyone around the two kilometre radius comes to know something's happened.
Another thing that struck me this week was a handover I listened to.Someone was being handed over as being from a deeply religious family,christian was specified.I stopped short in whatever I was doing to listen with my mouth gaping,I think.My second reaction was a deep chuckle.
Was being deeply religious a sickness?I guess the kid was right in a certain sense.
My education continues in cultures so different from where my roots are and yet when one talks of roots it is not the place where I was born,places where I grew up,the places where I spend some significant part of my life which I sense is my root,it is actually among people I have grown up with,met along this journey at different times and different places whom God has ordained to influence my life ..so the journey continues till I am safely Home.