Friday, January 30, 2009
The pastor, who was the leader of a church in Colorado is struggling, lost his job at the church after allegations of a sexual relationship with a man became public about 4 yrs back. He, who judged the homosexual community, rather harshly, has fallen by the same sin. Now, on mass media, it’s a “free for all”, with the pastor and family on parade. I have mixed emotions of anger, sadness, all of that! My eyes and ears are continually deceiving me.
So, I am going to put a pair of goggles called, ‘God’s Eyes’, and if there is any such thing. Wish we had some of it on SALE somewhere, especially during these difficult times. The moment I wear it, I have tears in my eyes. Tears for the people involved in this saga of sin, the people affected by this tragedy, all of them (accuser, accused, everyone), children of God. There is a unique story for each individual involved in this drama. How incidents in their lives have shaped them and brought them in time, to such fate. My goggles, looks through their eyes into the conscience of these individuals and tells them all “You are forgiven, Sin no more”. After which, there is weeping, tears of Joy and a Peace of freedom from sin. The pastor, his family, the church and the accuser, victims, walking hand-in-hand, praises God.
The moment I take my ‘God’s Eye’s’ awesome goggle’s off, I start to see a different story, A shameless pastor, pathetic family! The pastor and his wife look so bad. They are not being honest. Look at them; they don’t even touch each other. Why didn’t she divorce him? That church is so hypocritical. Look at them, they didn’t just chuck them out of the church, they asked then to leave the state. As for the guy that accused and made this public, he deserves to burn in hell. I am seeing with my eyes without a God-given conscience. Taking sides in this conflict and starting to think like ‘the world’.
In reality what I need to go with those awesome God’s Eye goggles would be some headphones with a direct line to Jesus Christ. I tune into it and I hear these words very clearly, “DO NOT JUDGE”.
I fall forward in the darkest of nights, pray and I weep how damned I would’ve been if not for a gadget more powerful than these goggles, headphones and all this gear that helps me be a Christian. It’s THE CROSS. Sin is crouching at my door, ready to devour me and I remember how my God was tempted, walking in human flesh, in the wilderness after 40 days of no water or food. He overcame these temptations not with supernatural powers, but with scripture. Then on a dark day, He was put to shame, scorned at, beaten and bruised and hung on a Cross for the temptations that I couldn’t resist and overcome.
I am forgiven because he was forsaken for my sins. His Mercy from a bruised and broken body and His blood poured out in Grace is the reason I live today. I need to be like Him. Overcome the temptations in my life and carry the burden of the sins of the world. I will never learn that lesson from this world with these eyes and ears. Open these blind eyes and touch my deaf ears one more time, Lord. Raise me up from the tomb and help me walk to Calvary, to that CROSS!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It came at a time when I wanted to know about His presence in my life and it stirred my heart so much, that I proceeded to forward it to some of my good friends. Yeah…I still got some..lol
As some of you regrettably know, some of this “Jesus Talk” can make some of my good buddies mad. Hey, I am still friends with them. So, I get a reply from my friend in the Middle-East, that I am trying to push some of my beliefs down his throat and to stop it. He goes on to tell me that this story down here is pure fiction. I am hurt but you know what, every time someone does that to me, I am going to start praying even harder for that person! :-)
Like I said before, I was looking for God’s presence. He is probably scratching his head when I do that :-). I am that doubter at times, trying to rationalize everything. So, could this be fiction…perhaps? Could this be Amy at rzim ministries, overzealous in trying to put her message across to the audience?
Well, I am at church that evening and this friend of ours bumps into me. We start talking about the email below. I am thinking...so, what? She goes on to say that the missionary in the story, in China, is her sister’s son, working out of the UK office of the church in Colorado. She tells me all about him and his ministry (www.alpharelief.org). Now, this is really the story within this story and once again for the umpteenth time, God has left me amazed! I am ruined yet again and I repent to dust! Don’t you love when that happens!
What are you looking at? Where are the anchors in your life? In these uncertain times, I imagine for many of us these questions are more than rhetorical or philosophical; they are truly heartfelt.
Recently I was struck by this announcement in John’s gospel: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29). John says, “Look, the Lamb of God.” My question to you is, what are you looking at? John emphatically directs our focus: “Look at Jesus.” In fact, he makes this declaration fifteen times in his gospel. This word is translated in the King James Version as Behold. Fifteen times he exhorts his readers to look at Jesus. Will you behold? This is astonishing. This is amazing.
Look at Jesus.
My favorite hymnwriter is Charles Wesley and one of my favorite of his hymns is called, “Jesus! The Name High Over All.” In the final verse of his hymn, he sings,
Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His Name,
Preach Him to all and cry in death,
“Behold, behold the Lamb!”
Now an account of John’s death tells us that that is exactly what happened. As John lay dying, he uttered those words, “Behold the Lamb,”
and then went to be with the Lord. John is telling us to look at Jesus--for our hope, for our provision, for our very lives.
In his gospel he invites us to behold Jesus through the lens of seven signs or miracles. That is, John deliberately chooses seven out of the many miracles that Jesus performed in order to give us a particular perspective of who this Jesus is. And the fourth miracle that he records is Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand. Jesus himself beholds the crowd--he looks attentively at their need--and he responds with compassion and provision. We encounter a dramatic miracle: Jesus multiplies fives loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people. Then John tells us, “When they had all had enough to eat, [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (6:12-13). What a picture of amazing abundance: the Son of God demonstrating the abundance of God to a hungry people.
Perhaps as you look at our world today you wonder if God is still at work in such a way. I want to encourage you that He is, for in my work and ministry I have seen his provision. Having been involved in Bible smuggling in China, I was intrigued to learn of a man named Chris who had gone out from the UK to do the same. Every three seconds someone in China becomes a Christian, but there’s a real lack of the Word of God there.
This is what happened to Chris: he and his team stood at the pickup point in China where they were to meet their contact, who would utter a password, and they would deliver their Bibles. They arrived with only minutes to spare, but the contact didn’t show up. Knowing they were being watched, the team started walking towards the edge of town as though leaving. Hot and tired, they stopped at a nearby park for a drink of water, rest, and prayer. It was hard to understand why after all the difficulties God had brought them through that something had gone so wrong. They had looked to Him for provision and direction, and yet their mission had seemingly failed.
Soon the team became aware of three very ragged and dirty men under a tree behind them. Chris felt the Lord leading him to go over with some water.
When he offered it, one of the men suddenly spoke the password very clearly in English. The rest of the team hurried over in amazement and pieced together the men’s story from the little Chinese that they knew.
Two years earlier, God had given a word to these Chinese men in one of their services that they should plan for this trip. He would lead them to this park, on this date, and have Bibles ready for them, which would be brought by white men from far away. Since they were all poor farmers, it had taken a long time for them to save the money for food and shoes for the trip. The men had walked for two and a half months, mostly at night to keep from being arrested. Coming from the far north of China near Mongolia, they had climbed a range of snowcapped mountains, traveled through the desert, and crossed several rivers without a compass or any knowledge of the country. All they could explain was that God had shown them where to go.
How did they know the password? How could they speak it in English when they knew no English? How did they survive the heat and the snow without protective clothing? It could only be God.
When the men saw the Bibles, they cried and praised the Lord for a long time. They had brought cloth bags with them to carry the Bibles home, and inside each one was a small watermelon that they had carried all those miles as a gift of appreciation. Even though they had been without food for several days, they didn’t eat a single watermelon. The team exchanged clothes with them and Chris explained what an honor it was to put on those dirty rags. The shoes were completely worn out, but the team chose to go barefoot and give up their own shoes, which fit the others perfectly.
Apparently God had chosen each group member based in part on their shoe size. Many tears were shed as the team prayed for the Chinese and sent them back home with food and money for their journey.
Jesus is the God of abundance. He is the one within whom this provision, this abundance, is located. Look to him, behold him, and you will be amazed.
Amy Orr-Ewing is training director at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in the United Kingdom.
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
Reprinted with permission.
A Slice of Infinity is a ministry of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Ravi Zacharias International Ministries may withdraw or modify this grant of permission at any time http://www.rzim.org/.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
The 44th President of The United States of America, Barrack Hussein Obama ends his inaugural address with these brilliant words from George Washington. I love the way the speech ended especially when we’re all in doubt about the wars, economy, terrorism…the list goes on!
The President is looking back at history to capture some of the mood of the nation during tough times, tougher perhaps, that he is talking about a situation where nothing would survive but hope and virtue. A lot of us can think of situations like that when it feels like we’re standing on shifting sand, everything we held dear being shattered and all we got is, Hope. This President ran his campaign on this message of Hope. The message captured the imagination of a lot of people, young and old, men and women alike. I guess you need to be an African American to fully understand how much this means, to generations who suffered.
Hope comes from things unseen, ultimately transcendent. It’s faith in a God and His Grace. Martin Luther King Jr., like The Founding Father of this nation, talked about "Promises and Hope". God gave him a vision of this day coming to fruition, of God's Grace for the free world. Grace works along faith. What is Faith? Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," writes the author of Hebrews. Our President is referring to this faith of a hope in things not seen! The Leader is one among us but our focus is on the mountain top, on the horizon, fixed on an unseen Creator, in control of our destinies.
Grace is mentioned in the Hindu texts, especially in the Bhakti tradition as 'Kripa'. Bhagavat Gita (Verse 18:66). Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th Century also talks about Grace in the ‘Bhaja Govindam’ It is mentioned in the Quran (42:26). The 'Guru Granth Sahib' talks about a Gracious God. In the Ancient Hebrew texts of the Old Testament/Torah, Noah finds Grace in the eyes of the Lord. Again, mentioned in Psalms and in the book of Esther.
As much as, the first African-American President is a defining moment in history, a perfect and sinless God in flesh, dying for our sins is 'The Defining Moment'. He fulfills the traditions and revelations in a lot of different religions. Something that the different races, tribes and religions were promised in their texts. Our hope is in Eternal Glory because of the willful act of submission of Jesus. It is when we bend our knees at the Cross that the Grace of God starts to renew us. There is no book in the world that deals with ‘Grace’ as much as the New Testament. M.K. Gandhi, The Father of India and the modern day symbol of non-violence often quoted from the New Testament. The Grace, which has no parallel in history.
Grace for us from a God who so loved us. Saving Grace! To save us into God’s kingdom! A kingdom bigger than what our President referred to in his speech. The King of Kings starts to rule our hearts. Our souls that he purchased with a Grace that we didn’t deserve. This is not dependent on our works or deeds because we all fall short. Isa, Yeshua, Hey-sus, Jesus, Yesu..Whatever you call him, He has given me Grace and I have quit trying to earn it. Yes! Only this ‘Saving Grace’ is all sufficient and will forgive and free us and our generations to come! Where sin increased Grace increased too and we need it today, in this world. May God pour out His Grace on this President, this country and the world. Let us endure this test and have Eternal hope and focus on the virtues of a Kingdom beyond this one.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added on to you...maybe, that's what God is telling us right now! Amazing Grace!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I am moved, my heart stirred when I see poverty on screen. For a few hours, I feel the pain in my heart but I am so thankful for the movie to end on a high where it all ends in song and dance and justice being served. The director and script writer teamed up to serve justice to their characters on screen. I am so relieved at seeing it end the way it did and I walk out of the theatre with a sense of goodness, relief that I was sympathetic to the plight of the poor. My inaction in real life was substituted by action on the screen. Life is good!
In a lot of places in this world, you don’t have to go to a movie to watch poverty in action. In fact, for the slum dwellers, most of the time, the movies are an escape to fantasy world, a world very much like we live in American suburbia or better. None of them would care to watch their daily lives on screen. On the other side, poverty and the poor are considered an intervention to the good and selfish lives of the upwardly mobile class of people. Small change is used to keep the urchins away. As in the movie, poverty is an inconvenience in the life of a wealthy man relaxing in his chauffer driven shiny Mercedes. This picture of contrast, of wealth and poverty is a constant in a lot of countries. Goodness that has been done in previous lives and the present one, has bestowed goodness to the rich man and the same has served justice in the form of poverty to those in the slums. I have no cause to be stirred or sympathetic for more than the duration of a movie or some “small talk” at a social gathering.
Come evening, I am at a social gathering of friends. As I walk into opulent surroundings, I feel how blessed I am, for the air is filled with the aroma of food, wine and soothing music. The movie I saw is fading in memory and my friends and I are soaking in the ambience. As the evening winds down into song and dance, inhibitions shed, we start to discuss wide ranging topics from global warming, the war in the Middle East, the new President and social justice, the injustice in our system and how selfish the rich in our countries are! Seems like the movie I watched is in everyone’s spirit (pun unintended). It feels good to be talking goodness. It’s great for all of us to stand out in the crowd, out of the misery, yet to point fingers at the rich who wouldn’t just give it away. The names of billionaires and millionaires, strangely enough, we know their names, most of them! Some of our kids at the party act fuzzy with not wanting to eat all the food in the plate. The problem with food, of its abundance, brings an end to our rather enlightening conversation on the scarcity of the same for the needy.
Reverting back to the movie, the tears that rolled down our cheeks or the lump in our throats, watching the wretched lives of the slum dwellers are tears that roll down the cheeks of God. The difference being God’s tears are for our hearts. We have opened our minds and not our hearts. Ideas that justify our selfishness have seemingly offered us a good life where we can judge others on social injustice. Karma has been good to us. Karma from previous lives and our self-reliance, our hard work is the difference between the slum-dwellers and us. Our goodness is, in talking about the poor in social events and trying to avoid them at all costs in real life. But, yes we do write that odd check every once in a while for we believe in doing good and karma.
They, that are seemingly poor, are richer on a bigger canvas of the Creator. They are there for us to serve Him. We have to shed our natural selves and ask questions from our heart. Open our hearts for Christ to live and for us to be amongst the poor. Justice is first served when Jesus Christ starts to live through you and me. Until such time, we will be master’s of our little kingdoms, seemingly in control of our selves yet getting ready to lose the biggest prize of it all, our souls! The wealthy knows that the Master, God, is good, but steps back when He asks us to give it all away to the poor and worse still, to follow Him. It takes more than a good movie or the check we write to make this fundamental change in our destiny. Charity, at best, should be an inconvenience to our seemingly blessed lives.
2000 years ago, a person know by the names, Isa, Yeshua, Jesus, Hey-sus, The Word became flesh, walked on earth, leaving the majestic heavens and stepping down among the poor. Jesus chose to be amongst the least in society. He wined and dined and broke bread with the least and the so-called uneducated class He said the poor will always be with you! The poor man or woman and their cries, often silent, will always be with us amidst our apathy and affluence. He turned around the workings of Karma telling us how they, the poor are a blessing to us and not the other way around. The water you offer to the poor is serving Him who is not in flesh with us!
When time stood still some 30 odd years after His birth, this God sacrificed himself for us, rejected and suffered the most gruesome death. His death being an offering at the altar of our depraved souls, for us to know him personally, for the love he has for us. When He told us that He will not be in flesh with us, he also offered a blueprint for serving Him. It was in taking care of the least among us. He took all of our Karma, our guilt, shame and sin and nailed it on his body. In so doing, He set us free from the bondages of apathy, injustice and death itself. He wrote the script for His life.
God is not dead and though it seemed like a tragedy of God-like proportions, He rose and He lives! Died on the Cross for us is Karma. He took it upon Him, all of our Karma. Rejected and suffered for the curse of Karma. Karma was nailed on that Cross and it’s no longer available as an excuse for sin in our heart or to feel proud of our accomplishments or to be boastful of ourselves. Neither is Karma an excuse to judge others or for paralyzing guilt. He is here today and He is standing with the poor, calling us to “The Life”. A Life beyond a good movie or a social gathering, or a check we write for the poor. A Life free and forgiven!
Just like in the movie where the stars start to break into a song and dance, we will sing and dance and live! We’ll feel like a millionaire yet not want the money for we have found a love that is much bigger, one that is unconditional! Yeah..I do believe that movies capture real life, even if, it is for a few hours. Isn’t our life itself supposed to be as such, only of little duration when compared to Eternity?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Prominently written on the National Emblem of India are the words, “Satyameva Jayathe”. Can’t agree with this more but where do men and women stand with it? What is the Truth that will win and is supposed to set one free!
From the beginning of time, as we know it, there are people who are “Truth Seekers” (sathyanweshis). As I write this, the CEO of an Indian company, ironically named after the Sanskrit word for Truth has admitted to accounting fraud. I read in one of the news portals that he is reading on Budha in jail. Not sure how credible this story is, but if it is true, then it would be a case of someone seeking truth from the life and teachings of a ‘Truth Seeker’ or someone who apparently encountered ‘The Truth’ or some portion of it. ‘Enlightened’, ‘Awakened’, ‘Self-Realization’…call it anything, it is this momentary realization of the Truth. The best chance of someone realizing Truth is when the familiar lies that surround one crumble. Oddly enough, it is Truth that makes it crumble and invites you to mystically accept it and surrender to it. Truth is a constant and has neither beginning nor end. It’s always been there!
Prominently written on the National Emblem of India are the words, “Satyameva Jayathe”. Can’t agree with this more but where do men and women stand with it? What is the Truth that will win and is supposed to set one free!
I would not be biased in saying that in eastern mysticism, there have been more ‘Truth Seekers’. The famous ‘Truth Seekers’ in the West would be Socrates and descendants to him in ancient Greece. The most famous one’s being Plato and Aristotle. These philosophers were trying to realize Truth. Did they accept and surrender to it…I don’t know! Eastern mystics are masters of controlling the variables on reacting to falsehood, which we lack in the West. We're just now coming to grips with post-modern values. Socrates does talk about some of these qualities. This mastery gives them a jump on shutting the world and knowing The Truth but do they accept and surrender to it…I don’t know! Do they lack the humility to surrender to The Truth...maybe! If for you and me, it’s material wealth that we take pride in, for the mystic sadhu, it’s perhaps his spiritual wealth. It is as much difficult for the mystic to give up his spiritual world as it is for the rich CEO to give up on his material wealth.
Why would one even search for the Truth, if the lies we build on make us happy? How long does happiness last? Do sad and depressed people know the Truth? Not really! They are deceived too! We become travelers tossed and turned by the rough seas and then are happy about the momentary calmness of the waters. What about the mountains and valleys once we are on land? The question one needs to ask oneself is whether you are in the presence of Truth that can overcome your weaknesses and vulnerabilities?
Truth challenges our perspective, questions accepted value systems and reveals and revels in it. It opens blinded eyes to the Way, makes one hear a call to Eternity, makes the lame rise up and walk on the Way and gives new Life to the dead. Truth reaches out from another dimension and breaks one’s very being. After all, it’s the lies that made us comfortable. In that brokenness, accept it with all your heart. Then, only then, will you see the Glory on the mountaintop. Then and only then, you will boldly step on water and start to walk.
Amidst all these philosophers, truth seekers and so-called Awakened and Enlightened beings only once in the history of mankind has Truth manifested in a person. Only one person claimed to be ‘The Truth’. It is for you to know this person in your brokenness for He knows you more that you yourself might and has been searching for you. Once you encounter Him, surrender to Him. Humble yourself in His presence for He is ‘The Truth’. The promise is The Way to The Life that is abundant! “Satyameva Jayathe”…be on the side of Truth and may it set you free. I hope Truth penetrates the heart of the CEO of the company and it starts to rule and reign over your life and mine. May we die to more familiar lies and surrender to Him.