Sunday, April 07, 2013
Sunday, March 10, 2013
However, this exorcism was different. Jesus did not use any means or media. He just commanded the evil-spirit to come out and it came out immediately! The words of Jesus alone is sufficient to drive the demon out of that man.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
'God is closer to me than I am to myself,' said Meister Eckhart (1260-1328), the German mystic and theologian of the bygone days. He went on to say that God is close to the wood but the wood doesn't realize that. That's true. God is closer to us but we don't realize the fact of God's nearness to us.
This insensitivity to God's nearness is caused by those things that have exiled God from our consciousness. It could also be that that many of our worldly concerns, cares and the like has created a wedge between us and our God and we let that gap grow as time went by, thus distancing us from our God.
We have many things that can take the place of God in our life. There are many rivals to God and we have consciously or unconsciously give these rivals to God the place of God in our lives. These are things that engage each moment of our lives. Our busy life, life's priorities, the things that demand our attention, those things that we adore have engaged our minds so much that we don't have time to realise the presence of God around us. These make us so insensitive like wood to the presence of God.
We then become like chidren who left their parents hands and were finally were lost in the crowd. Some search frantically for their parents to be united with them, some don't even realize that they are lost. This is what has happened to most of us. We have deliberately travelled too far from our Father who want to be closer to us.
One reason for wandering away from the Father is our own false self-confidence. We are made to believe that we are independent and we can do things without Him. As children grow and are more and more used to their world, they develop a sense of independence. That make them to dare to venture out themselves. This independence resulting from the false self-confidence is what makes us less and less aware of the presence of God. We are certainly less aware of what we don't make use of at all.
Jośe A. Pagola a Spanish bible commentator thinks that the problem of the modern world is not atheism but a 'God-deficiency' that we experience. We may not deny the existence of God but we don't acknowledge or experience God as much as we ought to. God is there, but we feel a deficiency of him in our lives.
This God-deficiency in our lives is the reason for all the ills of the modern day. Our world has turned more violent than before, because we in short supply of the God of love. We are merciless to women, children, the unborn, the poor etc, because we are deficient of the God of mercy.
God created the world centered around him, beautiful. The Bible encourages us to live our lives centred around him. God in the Old Testament had his presence in the midst of his people in the Tabernacle. He led his people through the wilderness. Jesus invited us to abide in him and promised his presence in our midst. He is ready to dine with anyone who opens the door of his heart for him. However, our insensitiveness, our God-deficiency and the lack of the God-centredness of our lives has thrown us off balance. There is a great need to return to God.
The devotional masters always tried to 'centre' themselves before they prayed, studied their scripture or even before they wrote. Everything has to be activities centred on God and proceed from the great awareness of him around and in us. This is why learning to centre our lives on God, whenever we feel that we are away from him is important.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Jesus once told the parable of the treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44). A man who knew there was treasure hidden in a field sold all that he has and bought that field. He paid a price that is much higher than the actual price of the field. For the owner of the field and others this man appeared to be a fool. Though the owner of the field was selling the field, this man was in fact buying the treasure. The owner could see only the field but the buyer sees a treasure in it.
This parable applies to all who have sacrificed all that they have for the sake of the Kingdom of God that Jesus came to establish. The best illustration of this parable is what happened in Jericho during the visit of Jesus when he met Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).
The Bible says Zacchaeus was a chief-tax collector. A chief tax-collector is someone who was in charge of many tax-collectors or had the right to collect tax from one or more tax-districts which he might have delegated to others. What this means is that he was doubly hated. He was hated by the tax-collectors who worked for him for demanding too much and also by the ordinary people who were struggling under the burden of Roman taxation who hated all tax-collectors!
He was the symbol of exploitation, collaborator with the Romans who economically and politically oppressed the people whom they ruled. Nobody liked Zacchaeus and his class. However, tax-collectors had a life of their own, they partied together and there was plenty of money to spend on lavish parties.
Zacchaeus was very curious but was short in stature. His curiosity was so much that he resorted to climb a tree to get a good view of Jesus. Certainly he might have heard a lot about Jesus, otherwise he would not have longed to see him. It seems that he also had some knowledge of what Jesus was preaching. Otherwise, he would not have told Jesus what he is going to do with his ill-gotten wealth (Luke 19:8).
Jesus carried with him a large crowd wherever he went. Besides the disciples and others who followed him wherever he went, there was also people from the places that he was visiting. In this large crowd that Jesus drew around himself critics were not rare. The critics who surrounded him would question his words and actions. At times they tried to harm him also.
Now, for these critics, meeting Zacchaeus was probably okay. But Jesus inviting himself to the house of Lazarus for a meal raised many the eyebrows. Their criticism was valid! A meal is more than having food. We need to be careful not only what we eat but with whom we are eating. Inviting someone for a meal, or having a meal with someone means that we share their values. We are in the same party! Seldom does enemies get together for a party unless to celebrate the end of their hostilities. If we don’t like a person we don’t like his parties also.
Having a meal with Zacchaeus means Jesus is his kind: A collaborator with the tax-collectors who support the Roman occupation of Judea to exploit his own people. A meal with Zacchaeus, that too with the knowledge of the public (Jesus invited himself to Zachaeus place in the hearing of the crowd) simply means Jesus endorses what Zacchaeus does. Jesus' is risking his reputation and making a public statement about where he stands: that he is with the oppressors and not with the oppressed. Having a meal with Zacchaeus, for the critics means that Jesus is with the imperial government and its collaborators.
Jesus and Zacchaeus have something to sort out. Do they belong to two parties or the same. If same who is on whose side? The solution was simple. One of them has to join the other. Who should do that? Should Jesus say that he belongs to the class of Zacchaeus or should Zacchaeus declare that he belongs to Jesus?
Zacchaeus knew he cannot have a meal with Jesus unless he joined Jesus party! So he "stood" (Luke 19:8). This word is powerful. Though this word means standing literally, it is used also in the sense of standing up to, resisting, etc. In Ephesians 6:11, the same Greek word is used to ‘standing against the schemes of the enemy.’ Here Zacchaeus thwarted the criticism of the crowd, and stripped them of their ammunition before they can fire the first bullet by changing sides. He is no more a tax-collector who exacts money but a new person. He will give away four-fold of what he has unjustly collected and give half of his wealth to the poor! His decision shut the mouth of the critics: Jesus is doing nothing wrong in having a meal with him, because they share the same values.
So, that meal was not Jesus endorsing Zacchaeus but Zacchaeus endorsing Jesus!
The cost was high! Much higher than the cost of meal they shared. The cost was so high that Zacchaeus probably may not be able to host another luncheon like that again. This decision might make him bankrupt, but for Zacchaeus what was important was to share the same values as that of Jesus, the Kingdom values, by bidding farewell to oppression and exploitation. That is worth more than what he was parting with--his ill-gotten wealth. He was parting with all that he had because he was simply trading it for a much precious treasure: the Kingdom of God. He bought a field selling all that he had, because he eyed a treasure in it.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I wanted to sleep, but he won’t let me. He kept talking always punctuating it with this respectful "uncle.” I managed to have a nap but when I woke up he started massaging my right arm though I protested. He claimed that he was trained by his uncle to massage. However, I enjoyed the soothing effects of the massage and I let him; I badly needed it though. He then massaged my arms, my head, shoulders as I listened to him.
He is an engineer, studied in the UK. When he realized that I too am a UK alumnus he was excited. His wife had all her education in the Madrassa and never been to college. She has done eight years studying the Holy Quran, the Hadit, Shariya and so on. She is in fact qualified to be a teacher in a Madrassa.
Our conversation meandered through various subjects into the topic of a good moral life. It all started as I quizzed him on Islamic banking, a subject that I am keen to learn. That conversation made me realize that in all religious there are people who would like to live upright lives. Its ture that religions create in their followers a quest for ethical lives.
He told me how one can avoid lying. "When someone bargain with you” he said, "if you are a merchant, you don’t have to lie.” For example, you don’t have to say that you got it for a certain price, and can’t sell it less than that. It could be a lie to convince the buyer. Instead, an ethical merchant just need to say that it is the lowest price that he can sell. No explanations needed.
He had some useful tips on overcoming jealousy too. We often are jealous of people’s achievements, that’s human. However, if we can bless the person who has made an achievement, we can overcome it. For example, if your neighbour buys a new car or had a salary hike just bless him and you can overcome jealousy. That was a very useful tip!
Positive mind-set is very important. So my friend says "masha allah” ("God has willed it”) when he see someone doing some good work. When we see someone sweeping the street, washing the car or helping a blind person cross the road, whisper "masha allah” in order that such good works will prosper and then obviously the whole world will be filled with such good works. I liked it also. It is a very creative way of having a postive outlook on life around us.
I was a keen listener so far. It was my turn to talk. I have learned a lot from him and I also praise God that there are many in the world who like to live upright lives pleasing God. I told him I strive to produce the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit as a believing Christian. I struggle to love, to be patient, to be kind and so on. I told him I struggle to rejoice in the success of others and long to see a world full of happiness, good works, zero corruption, etc. "I do it” I told him, "slightly differently.” I may not use the expression "masha allah” because it is foreign to me. He was so pleased to find another person with a mind-set similar to his.
"However, AB,” I said (AB being the initials of his name), "I am trying to do my best and I know that I am not perfect.” Sometimes, the success of my friend is of such magnitude that it takes me a few days to overcome my jealousy and tame myself to bless him. I bypass so many people who do good works and forget to bless them. When I stand before my Creator one day (as all of us will) what guarantee that I got that I will enter the Paradise? How do I know that while on earth I had met his criteria of righteousness? "Dear AB, this question has been bothering me!” I told him sincerely. "I realized that I cannot live a life pleasing God by my own strength. I needed help.”
"However, I found help,” I told him, "in prophet Jesus.” "He was willing to help me because I consider him more than a prophet.” He is my saviour as he has condoned all my sins so far. He is my righteousness because I have put my trust in him. He is my model for ethical life. However, whenever I stumble and fail, I am sure he will come to help me. I am not living on my own strength but by his grace. I am sure, when I stand before my Creator one day, he will say to me "well done my son!” "You have tried to live according to my example and what I have revealed in the Word of God.” Jesus will tell me that day, "You have some failings but since you have put your trust in me and depended on my grace than your strength I ignore your failings.”
AB was very keen and attentive, he was all ears. He has found another person like him, trying to live a life that pleases God. But I hope he understood that my way of pleasing God is different from his. I "struggle” to please God because of the weakness of my flesh. But I live with the confidence that my saviour will make up what I lack since I trust in him. The trust in Jesus that is the difference between us.
Then the captain announced that the plane is going to begin its descend to Kuala Lumpur. Our conversation has to be wound up. But I am so pleased and thankful to God that in his plan he gave AB and me, two like minded people to raise to a new level in our thinking and challenges for life. That was indeed a divine appointment.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The church I pastor had been worshiping in a hotel room for the last three years. After a wonderful service last Sunday, as I walked out of the "church”, the manager of the hotel called me aside to say that we have to move out. That means I will have to find a new place for next Sunday.
So, I started the hunt for places. Called up real-estate agents, sent text-messages to church members to pray and called leaders together to pray.
I started with a Parsi lady who runs a small nursery school from her mother’s cottage. Though she gave me an appointment at 5:00 pm I could not keep it since I was with a property dealer who was showing me places around. She waited for me till 6.00pm and got on with her other evening engagements. However, when I called her up again to reschedule my appointment, she was extremely kind to discuss the matter over the phone. She even called her mom on phone to persuade her to rent the place for us for Sunday mornings but failed. Her aged Mom (about 80 years) cannot have a group of people singing songs on Sunday morning till 1.00 pm; Sunday is her only quiet day. All the other days they have the small kids screaming and running all over the place. I understand. However, this wonderful lady, who is not a Christian but a Parsi was so concerned when I told her I have no place for church next Sunday. She thought for a moment and offered me her cottage! She added that it will be free of cost until I find a new place! She don’t want the church to be without a place to meet even for a Sunday. A Parsi, offering her cottage free of cost for Christian worship? Yes, there are lots of good people who fear the Lord outside the church. That was a new discovery.
My next stop was back to the hotel manager to plead again. I need it for another four-five weeks which will give me some time to find a new place and prepare the flock for a move. So, I walked in to the hotel. The staff who noticed me stood up respectfully, offered me a seat. The managers walked in and offered tea. I was not in a mood for tea. But one of them insisted, "You should have something!” So, I surrendered my lack of appetite before his kind hospitality. I told him why I need it for another four-five weeks. He listened carefully. They have done some Vastu and Reiki investigations on the building and found out that the place badly need renovation. They need to get it done before the IPL season begins in the first week of April, it is already March. The architect is going to pull down the fixtures and start the work next Saturday in order to meet his deadlines. But one of the managers added, "but we need the positive power of your prayers too for our business. We don’t want you to go away, we need your prayers in this building.”
So, he need to make sure the "positive powers" of my church’s prayer every Sunday in his building. So, discussion proceeded along those lines. So, we need to work out how that happens and they came up with a plan. In case the architect pulls down the hall in these four weeks time, they will get the basement ready for our service. If that is the case, then the "positive power" of my church’s prayers will go up and bless the building. Sure, we will have the building for service. I dont’ believe in the "positive power" of prayers, I don’t believe in Reiki and Vastu. All these are non-sense to me! However, I like the people who think that Christian prayers can do them some good and would like to keep some praying Christians around them! So, yesterday God worked for us and sorted out part of our problem. Yes, there are lot of people who are vulnerable to God outside the Church.
This is the lesson that Jonah had to learn in the hard way. For Jonah people of Nineveh are the most wicked ones. They should perish. In fact the whole world, the pagans who don’t know the true God should perish, that’s what Jonah believed. So, he ran away from an assignment to preach in Nineveh. He didn’t want them to repent and be saved.
So, he got in to a ship that was to sail in the opposite direction. But God won’t let him go and followed him in the sea too. The severe storm threatens the ship. The sailors threw their wares out in to the sea to make it light in an attempt to save their ship and their lives. Now, through casting lots, they found out that all these are because of one man—a disobedient prophet on board. Jonah was cool when he suggested that he be thrown overboard to the Mediterranean sea where hungry sharks roam. However, the sailors won’t. The pagan sailors has such a respect for human life, they would like to keep an Israelite though he may be the cause of all their woes. He had already told them that he worships the Lord who made heaven and earth. So, they have such great fear of this God whom they don’t know but who, according to this passenger is in charge of the sea! He had to insist and they had no other choice than get rid of this dangerous cargo which has come to them in the form of the disobedient prophet. Finally, they prayed, asked God’s forgiveness before tossing this man in to the sea! Pagans who fear the Lord and who are integral part of God’s plan, that’s a new lesson.
Now, the big fish with Jonah in his belly is speeding in the opposite direction of the ship towards Nineveh. It has an urgent commission. It has a precious cargo in its belly. It has to throw up this rebel prophet on the shores of the city of Nineveh before the digestive fluids dissolve him in his belly! He has to be in one piece! The fish cannot be as disobedient as the man of God is.
Now, in Nineveh, Noah preached his half-hearted sermon, in a "here it is, take it if you want” attitude. But the response to the one-line sermon was great! The pagans walked up to the altar in large numbers even before he gave the altar call. In fact, he was not planning one. Jonah could not believe his eyes! Even before he started playing "Just as I am without one plea, O lamb of God I come!”, there is a long queue, Usually he had to play it twice and repeat the altar call two or three times, keep telling people that all should have their eyes closed, use all sorts of gimmicks for the first person to get up and walk toward the altar. Then there will be a trickle of three to five people who line up before the pulpit. Now, here comes the entire city of Nineveh in tears beating their chests in repentance; men, women, youth, children, babies in their mothers hands, pets and even cattle following them to fast and ask God’s forgiveness. Jonah is stunned! This sort of things hasn’t happened in his crusades in Joppa or even in Jerusalem, in God’s own land! This pagan city is responding in a way that he never expected.
Oh, yes there are lots of people outside the Church who are vulnerable to God. I am reminded of what Woody Allen said, "more and more people are leaving the Church and getting closer to God!”
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
blonde she is. However, her face was without expressions, she seldom
smiled and hardly talked. Her movements were robot-like.
She stood behind the restaurant counter painted in black. The dominant
theme of the restaurant was black. Black counter, black table-cloths,
the pillars which held the glass panels giving us a view of outside
were also painted black. She, like all the other waiters wore long
black trousers, black shirts with long-sleeves. All that was visible
from that black drape was her white expression-like face, dead tired
eyes and her short blonde hair.
In short, she and her team in that blackish restaurant intensified its
melancholic air. My team ate three meals there for five days. We were
there in that country which was part of former USSR. Tired after long
meeting, we wallked in to the restaurant to be refreshed, but the
melancholic air of the restaurant made us more tired and sick even
though the food was really good.
My friend is fun-loving and he loves to talk, and enjoys jokes. This
is not the kind of surroundings that he like to be in. One day, when
he cannot stand the waiters who seldom greeted the guests, but was
duty bound, just placed the three courses one after other and cleared
them without a smile, he decided to pull out one of his tricks.
"Hi, Elvina!" he said as she was clearing the table. "Can I have a
glass of water?" She raised her head and looked at him and knew he was
adressing her. He repeated, "Elvina, I would like to have some water."
"I am not Elvina!" she retorted; but she was not angry! "Then who are
you?", my friend insisted to know. She smiled and said in a rather
subdued tone, "I am Christiana!" "Oh, sorry Christiana! What do you do
besides working here, are you a student?" Christiana smiled again and
told us that she is a student, working towards a job in hotel
management. Then whenever, we walked in to the restaurant she smiled
at us from behind the counter painted black, and whenever he laid the
food on the black table-cloths she wished us. My friend has made
Christiana smile and talk!
Christiana is representative of a generation of young people whose
parents never taught them to smile though they were free to. Their
parents and grandparents have been through repressive communist
regimes that not only rationed out food and comforts but controlled
their intellectual and emotional life.
In the streets, people don't care to make eye-contact with others. The
cashiers at the super-market counters don't greet the customers. The
bus-driver looks away from the passenger as they enter the bus. The
people of this country are still under the spell of the repressive
regime though they are free.
There is religious freedom in almost all countries that belonged to
the Eastern block; Freedom to propogate and to practice ones faith.
However, having lived their lives for three generations without
religion the natural hunger for God that every human being has seems
to have died out. The new generation generally doesn't care. Their
parents did not go to churches or Sunday Schools and they do not know
why these are essential for their children. If they could manage their
without these then their children should also.
We have been hearing a lot about religious freedom in the former
communist countries ever since Berlin wall fell. However, as I walked
through the doors, what I found is freedom but a freedom nobody like
to make use of and is not excited about.
It is not only in former USSR or but people who had gone through
similar repressive regimes also feel the same way. I remember praying
with a colleague from Combodia some years back. He said, though the
country is now free, the people are still under the spell of the Pol
The Christian challenge in these countries to proclaim that there is
freedom; to make them realize that they are now free to smile, talk.
To lead them to a greater joy that is in Christ means that they should
first discover the need to be joyful. My prayer for the younger
generation would be that their eyes will be open to realize the need
to be joyful and later discover that the real joy comes from the Lord.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Like thousands of others, Apple computers made my life different. The first work I ever did on a computer was on an old IBM PC way back in 1986-1988 during my student days in Bangalore. It had no hard disk, it used two 5" floppy disk drives. One of the floppy disks had the OS and the word processing program. The other was for saving the documents to. The computer had no memory of any sort, we had to enter the time and date at start up. We did not know what we were going to get. I mean, the screen and the printout did not match exactly. If you forgot to close the code for bold font (which was invisible on the screen) then the entire document from that point will be in bold!
However, two years later, I was introduced to an Apple Macintosh Classic computer with a black and white screen. It had a mouse, what I saw on the screen was I what I got in the printout (WYSWYG). It could type Hebrew and Greek, the two languages that I had to use besides English. It was a great leap for me! Then a few months later, I had my own Apple-- A Macintosh LC with color monitor! Nineteen years now, I still keep it; it is still functional though I don't use it! I had to part my ways with Apple. I could not travel with Apple any further as my iBook crashed a few years back. I changed my loyalties to Linux run on PCs. Apples turned out to be expensive. Moreover it was difficult to keep pace with the speed at which they updated the hardware and the software-- every six months something new rolled out of Steve Jobs mind to the market. However, I still am an Apple fan and hold no hatred for iPhones or iPads!
The world of technology and business hail him for his inventions; iPhone, iPad, iCloud and all that preceded these. However, I think his greatest achievement was not an invention but a discovery that he made. I would like to call it iDeath!
He disclosed that discovery when he went public after being diagnosed for pancreatic cancer in 2005. That is his discovery of the significance of death for him. He said, "Remembering that I' ll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."
However, even before that, from the very beginning of his career he had death in view. Steve Wozniak who knew him from the very beginning of his life as a computer genius and business man made another revelation about Jobs in his interview with the Associated Press. He said that Jobs told him around the time he left Apple in 1985 that he had a feeling he would die before the age of 40. Because of that, "a lot of his life was focused on trying to get things done quickly," Wozniak said.
This discovery of the significance of death for a human being defined Jobs’ life-style and his impatience for achievements. Former colleagues remember him being rude and impatient. He fired people if their answer did not satisfy him. He had no time to waste, he was on a rush. The secret seems to be that he always saw death before him, he had the end in view; he had to achieve all that he could before he reached that point.
I would like to use the metaphor of a ship on collision course to understand Steve Jobs view of life and death. He seems to have imagined that his ship will not survive the collision and will sink deep down never to raise again. Seeing the immanent death (though he lived longer than he thought he will) he was on a hurry. He was bent on achieving as much as he can before the collision happens. That is what made him brash and impatient. That sense of urgency is the secret of his achievements as well.
However, that is not the only perspective on life and death that is possible. Saint Paul saw death every day in his life. He lived a very dangerous life which he described as "we die every day" (1 Cor 15:31). Death was an every day possibility for him. He had survived shipwrecks, snake bites, robbery attempts, had fought with animals in the arena. He knew that he may drop dead any time! Though death was a daily reality for him, his view on death was very different from that of Steve Jobs.
If he saw his life as a ship, he would have seen death as a thick fog through which his ship has to pass through and not as an ice-berg that it would crash on to.While Steve Jobs could not see the other side of death, Saint Paul could see through the fog the other side of life beyond the grave.
The other side of the grave (the fog) as the Bible presents it is beautiful and radically different from one the one that we have now. The Bible describes it as a life where the perishable is turned into imperishable, and the mortal turned in to immortal. It is a life without limit: no limit on its time and no cap on its quality. That limitless length and quality is what qualifies it to be described as "Eternal Life" or eLife borrowing Steve Job’s language! (One of his flops was the eMac!).
This eLife is not a life of passivity; spent waiting for the other life. It has the same urgency that Steve Jobs maintained but for two different reasons. The first reason is that the passing through the fog is to a place from where there is no return. Whatever to be achieved in this world has to be achieved before the ship enters the fog. The second reason is that we can only predict the possibility of the fog but can’t predict how far we are from it. One day our ships will meet the fog, but none knows when. That demands that every moment has to be redeemed. There is urgency that fuels our life to achieve.
Steve Jobs has been a great achiever. His achievement was prompted by the certainty of an immanent death from which he cannot escape. That great discovery of death made him rush and gained a place with the greatest minds of our times. But he could have had the same urgency and achievements that follow from that sense of urgency with another view of life and death as well. He could have held a view which would have given him hope not only in this world but also in the world to come. It seems that he missed that perspective. His greatest achievement is the discovery of iDeath on which he could not put any controls. He missed eLife-- eternal life that Jesus offers to all who put their trust in him. If Steve Jobs had read that Book which talks about it, he would have discovered eLife.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
However, a Roman centurion is different. He has 100 soldiers under his command. When he walks in, they all stand in attention and salute him. When he commands one of them to go and fetch something he does. When he shouts 'march' they march on in an array. All of them are under his command. His words work. They can change things; they make things move!
The Roman centurion whom we find in Luke 7 was in desperate need, a need which was beyond the resources he had at hand. One of his servants was sick and no words of him will heal him. The sickness or whatever that caused that sickness was not under his authority. They won't heed his commands. He was helpless.
However, he was humble. Humility is the pre-requisite for faith. He knew higher authorities exist. He knew from his experience that authorities higher than him had higher commanding power. An officer in-charge of a legion had much higher power than a centurion.
Centurion's knowledge and experience shaped his faith. He did not want Jesus to come to his house. The reason for not taking Jesus to his house is not that it was not big enough for Jesus. The reason was simple; Jesus doesn't need to be there. His word is enough! 'But say the word, and my servant will be healed' (Luke 7:7). The article (the) on "word" is important. He meant "the word" for sickness to leave! He knew there is a word to make the army march, there is a word to make the army to retreat, so there must be a word for sickness to leave and healing to come in. The one who has authority over sickness can command using 'the word that heals.' In Jesus he recognized that authority and the power of Jesus' command.
Centurions' faith was commended because his faith came from his experience and his recognition of Jesus' authority. In Jesus he saw more than a Galilean tramp, a man of authority. In Jesus he saw a man who has authority over all sickness. That's what is called faith!
+Amrutha Pulikottil +Johns Abraham +John Alex +Baju Joy +Barry L Ross +Denny Babu +bibi george +Tess Chai +Connie Karsten +Chris Wright +Daman Chawla +christy mathew +DeCruz Pulikottil +David Neidert +Devender Verma +Edison Thella +Philip P. Eapen +Ebin Abraham +EBEN TOM PHILIP +Georgy Fredy +Frank Ho +Rev. Fr. Sajeev Sugu Jacob +Faustina Moktan +George Ohia +sohan tiwade +Rev. Dr. Harold D. Hunter +Steve Hardy +Hanson Samuel +Hasita Issac +Shirley Ho +Hannah Muhar +Anne Cathers +Coordinator UAE +Meren Imchen +Joshy John +John Thomas +Jean-Daniel Pluess +Kee Nelson +Anoop Krishnan +Desmond T H Lim +Starla Luke +Margaret Lamb +Sebastian moktan +Shalu T. Mathew +Sam Mathew +Sam Mathew +Johney Joseph +Nilav Kolay +Jos Vargh +Jonathan Ng +George Ohia +Rojin Pynummood +oommen george +Stephen Olsen +Lim Siew Pik +Renjen Philip +Reji Philip +jimmy cherian +Godly John +Robin Jacob +simmy saji +Simjan. Jacob +Jerin Thomas +Tim Wiford +Cynthia Sprunger +alan varghese +Rachel Varkey +John Walters +Willy Abraham +Michelle Fernandes +Terry Yeow +Caleb Yeshwanth +C P Thomas +Gigi Zachariah +Zeroob Baby +Prakash Philip Zacharia +Fadhilah Zulkifly +zakkariya parammal
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Jonah was not that bad! He ran away from the presence of the Lord, I agree! Probably, he did not have read Psalm 139 especially verses 7 -10 of that psalm: "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalms 139:7-10 ESV).
Not only him, even long after him, the people of Israel thought that the presence of God was limited to certain places. This is what the Samaritan woman quizzed Jesus: "The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” (John 4:19-20). So, he thought he can get rid of this nagging God if he left the country and sailed for a far away place, beyond the reach of the Hebrew God!
Now, running away from his country to avoid the presence of God, that is a serious charge! But tell me which prophet of Israel was not fed up with this God who always demanded too much from them. Moses, complained to God many times when he was under stress, Elijah wanted to die unable to carry on, Jeremiah wept, protested, argued with God, Isaiah was despondent, the list can go on! We all are tempted to do it. It is just human.
Sleeping at the bottom of the ship while a storm was raging and every sailor was praying to his god is quite an achievement! Who can sleep peacefully amidst such a turbulance? Remember what you did when when you are 40,000 ft above the Atlantic and the pilot turned the seat-belt light on with a warning that the plane is facing turbulent weather? You made a sign of the cross and closed your eyes but were not able to sleep until the plane got back to a smooth path? Jonah was not sleeping, I think, was pondering "O God, you are here too! You got me?"
The story portrays an ordinary human being. It tells us what any prophet would do if God asks him to do something that he has never done before. Not just prophets all devout persons have limits to their patience and endurance. Jonah had reached his. That explains his behaviour.
But what I like in the story of Jonah is that he did something that many godly people normally won’t do. First of all, he knew what is wrong! He was a good troubleshooter! He told his fellow sailors that it is the hand of his God who created heaven, earth and sea! Many of us are equally good trouble shooters as well. But the difference is that Jonah not only found out what is wrong but he admitted that he is responsible for it! That many of us don't do. We normally score very low as troubleshooters, but very high as trouble-makers. Even when we succeed in locating the reason for the problem we tend to park it at somebody else's door! Taking up responsibility for the mess we created is often not in our nature. Now, I want Jonah to be exonerated at least on this ground! Long live Jonah!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Conflicts are bred when people insist on their rights. Two ships collided head on in the Black Sea killing hundreds of people in 1986. The reason for this tragedy was simple! Both captains insisted on their right of way and were not willing to yield! By the time they realized that they were on a collision path it was too late!
Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister once reminded his people that there are no rights without duties! People who insist on their rights often ignore that they have duties to perform. Those who ignore that obligation have no claim on rights.
However, the Bible extends the correlation between rights and duties further than an issue of priority; that is the question of right first or duty first. In 1 Corinthians 9 Saint Paul illustrates through his own life that sometimes we will have to surrender our rights for the sake of our duties.
He had every right to travel with his wife on his missionary tours. We are not sure if he was married and a widower or he was never married. Whichever way it goes, he travelled without the company of a wife. However, that was not the practice Christian circles those days. Other Apostles took their wives on their trips (1 Corinthians 9:5). As a minister of the gospel there was nothing wrong in being rewarded for his service (1 Corinthians 9:6). That was the practice of the apostles and that was also supported by the scriptures (1 Corinthians 9:13-14). However, Paul did not insist on this right also. Rather he chose to work and earn his support so that he can preach free without burdening the people to whom ministered (Acts 18:2-3). He had many such rights but he did not insist on any of them.
At least two times he states that he did not insist on his rights (1 Corinthians 9:12, 15). Why did he not insist on his rights? His reason for forfeiting his rights is that it may hinder his duty of preaching the gospel. So for the sake of his duty he would rather give up his rights.
Sometimes, preachers may become such heavy weights that smaller people may not be able to come closer to them. In such scenarios the gospel suffers. Many times inisting on our rights we lose friends, opportunities for conversation and even opportunities for service. When forfeiting our rights for the sake of gospel we don’t lose anything but make great profits by winning souls for Christ.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
There are lot of questions to be answered. First of all, what is "justice" and how justice is done?
Justice is righting wrong. Justice means that somebody has caused someone some sort of distress and that situation has to be corrected. There are many ways of righting the wrong. Restraining the person who did the wrong thing and making sure that person will not do it again is one thing. But that is the second step. Removing the disadvantage that the victim suffers is the first step. Then comes the second step of making sure that it will not happen.
When someone robs a person, the person is caught, he has to return what he has robbed. The wrong is corrected. Then the robber is restrained or corrected so that it will not happen again. However, this really doesn't apply to murders. The murderer has taken from the victim and his dear ones something he cannot return, that is life. However, the disadvantage that the victim suffers can be corrected. The ways the Old Testament deals with this is instructive. If the murder was intentional then the murderer has to pay by his life. He will be killed. If the murder was unintentional then the murderer can take refuge in one of the asylums called "cites of refuge" and spend the rest of his life there or will be caught and executed.
In both cases, justice is done by removing the disadvantages that the victim suffers. In ancient agrarian societies number mattered. The families with larger number of people were better off than smaller families. That is, the sheer number of workforce was crucial for their life, prosperity and security. When a family or clan is killed the murderer and his group gains an advantage over them. This can be corrected only by the death of a member from the family or clan of the murderer; and nobody is responsible for this other than the murderer, so his life has to be taken. By keeping the murderer in one of the cities of refuge he is restrained by participating in the life of his community. Thus "An eye for an eye" approach was a primitive form of ensuring peace and prosperity.
This clarifies the words "revenge" and "avenge". There is a huge difference between "revenge" and "avenge". Revenging is to return the evil for evil. It has no other motivation or purpose. However, "avenge" is correcting a situation and bringing justice by returning the same or similar act. Revenge is retaliation but avenging is to bring justice. The Old Testament "An eye for an eye" thinking was a avenging than revenge.
This same principle doesn't apply to modern situations. By killing the man who is responsible for the death of thousands of Shias (Saddam Hussein), or American civilians in WTC attack (Osama bin Laden) the disadvantage that the victims or their families suffer is not corrected. All that they get is the feeling that he will not be able to do it again to anyone else beside satisfying their thirst for revenge. However, there are number of other ways of making sure that he will not doing it again than killing him and revenge is not Christian at all.
Killing a person terminates not only life but opportunities for that person to be a better person in life. In Christ there is a standing invitation to all humanity to change, to shed hatred. To deny any person that opportunity is a denial of God. To conclude that a person is beyond correction is arrogance. The modern world has denied Saddam Hussein, Velupillai Prabhakaran, Bin Laden and many others that opportunity. What we have done is gross injustice to our Christian conscience!
Monday, April 25, 2011
However, it took some time for his disciples to come to terms with this reality. Mary and other women did not remember that he had claimed that he will rise again. They went on a wrong search at the wrong place. They were not supposed to search for him in the tomb he was buried. Because he was not going to be there on the third day. They longed to see his dead body again, but that is the wrong thing they were looking for. Many continue similar searches for truth making pilgrimages to places to find truth there but truth is not a place and cannot be found in any place. Jesus is truth and he is not be confined to any pilgrim places.
However, meeting the risen Jesus altogether changed her search and the mindset of the disciples who verified that the tomb was indeed empty. They found the linen wrapping in the grave, but did not bother to keep a few pieces of this to be venerated later. For them they have met the risen saviour and having him back to "walk with them and talk with them" is far greater than keeping some rags to venerate. When I have the reality of Jesus Christ why should they settle for something less.
Easter Sunday come with the message: Your search ends here, if you begin a walk with the risen Lord.