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Reflections

Thoughts captured along the way!

Sheep, Wolves, Serpent and Doves

The people of the book called the Bible, some good Christians, most preachers would effortlessly identify the title “Sheep, Wolves, Serpent and Doves” with the verse quoted by the Son of God himself.

As it is written in Matthew 10:16 – “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”

This verse acts as a prelude to the context Jesus was setting in the verses that follow.

Matthew chapter 10, is unique in its contents – There are beautiful gifts that Jesus promised to his DISCIPLES, valuable instructionswords of caution and tit-bits of prophecy. (Take time to read  Matthew 10 carefully, to see what God has to say to us – no amount of man’s interpretation can compensate for God’s word)

In the entire chapter the verse 16 has a lot of wisdom to offer that we can use it in our own lives when we call ourselves Christians (Disciples of Christ)

Whom does Jesus call Sheep and Wolves?

Sheep – His Disciples

Wolves – We may think in our world, that non-Christians are wolves, or the ones who dont know Christ. But surprisingly in verse 5&6 in the chapter it says – “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel “.

 

Jesus is saying my children who are called to be disciples, go to your own fellow men who are ferocious wolves. No.. No.. It can’t be so, I can’t tell my own family people about whats wrong and whats right, how can I tell other Christians that they’ve lost their way?

Jesus are you kidding me ??  Its easy for me to share the word of God with a non believer, distribute a track to a stranger, go to church and sing loudly, preach generally and be a silent spectator.

Jesus, “are you asking me to a bakra amidst those cunning wolves, who’ve lost their way”? No Jesus, I’m sure you want me to be comfortable and you’ve asked me to lay all my burdens onto you.

Ain’t it easy to say we pray, and gossip about issues and think they will be solved! Duh..

Alright, what about the Serpent and the Dove.

Here’s a great principle of balance that Jesus is teaching – “Be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves”

Shrewd means “having or showing sharp powers of judgement”,  innocent isn’t ignorance but “not being harmful”

Putting all the pieces together, Jesus is saying to us his children who are called to be his disciples, to go to the wolves and make them his disciples and be wise in our judgments and innocent in our actions.

How do we do that in our ever increasing complex world

Apostle Paul, helps convert Jesus advice into practical tips for living in his awesome chapter to Romans. (Romans 12:9-21)

Let love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.

Never be wise in your own sight.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

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Pic Courtesy: Judges.com

When you know you can’t do much

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Hannah – Easter 2016

A long Saturday with numerous tasks came to an end, I was only dreaming of hitting the sack as soon as I can. My hopes of rest came crumbling down with a load of Hannah’s excitement, inquisitiveness, laughs and her stubborn will of being awake past 11:30 pm.

She laughed and played for sometime as my mother in law watched TV in the living room. I was waiting to pounce on the tiniest sign of sleep on Hannah’s face, unfortunately she was only getting excited with each passing minute.

Tired and grumpy as I was, I chose to put her to bed even if she dint like it. I tossed her onto the bed convinced that she will have to sleep. The moment I hurled her onto the bed, she screamed waking her dad from his deep sleep. He got up pacified her and locked the room, switched off the lights, and tried to put her to sleep.

It was completely dark, Hannah was still not ready for sleep while we both just needed that. She kept crying and tossing and my husband was too tired to watch over her and went back to sleep. In the dark, I watched her and was amazed at what she did.

She crawled down the bed, slid on the side and went to the door and bent down to the light that was seeping in from the living room into the dark bedroom. She was calling out to her grandma to rescue her from the dark room of sleep into a living room filled with life and activity.  When her constant pleas for help were rendered fruitless, she did the only thing she knew – She cried loudly, sternly, deeply and pointedly, to be set free!

The cry moved me, I got down opened the door and she was happy to have seen light.

Often there are times when we are locked inside closed doors, we see signs of light but nothing seem to be happening. Sometimes, it might seem like a never ending tunnel, it may be a difficult, dark valley, could be an unending sickness, an emotional turmoil, troublesome conflict with no solutions, or just dirty sin that drags us deeper!

The times when we have done everything we can, when there is nothing else we can do –

Pray, cry, wait on the Lord and remember the answer is on its way!!

 

The difference

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Sunset from my balcony – 24-Aug-2016

The alarm goes off, and I wish I could just stay longer in the bed, under the cozy covers. Endless other wishes come running into my little door of my mind.

I wish I had hot coffee waiting for me to sip when I get up, I wish I could get out of the bed with music ringing in my ears. I wish I could hug my kids and kiss my husband and read a few devotions without having to hurry through the mace of life.

My wishes are interrupted by the loud ring on my phone, its time to get into the cab. The cab waits, and I slip out of my house without being noticed. I wish I could read a book, knit a few goodies instead I fall into a deep sleep and end up with quite a few muscles sprained at the end of the journey.

I wish I had a better job with greater flexibility, friendly colleagues and a workplace which endlessly rewards me. I sometimes do wish I never had to work and was a stay at home mom, spending more time with my girls.

I wish I had a better, bigger house with a vegetable garden where I could sow, plant and reap and bask in the glory of its bright colors.

I wish I had enough money that I could go on trips without having to budget, plan and think twice on spending.

I wish I had a fairer, flawless skin, long flowing hair!

I wish I could eat everything I wanted without having to hesitate or say “no” to high calorie, fried and yummy food. I wish I could weigh less, I wish I could get back to my pre-pregnancy shape.

Then there is social media suggesting me who I have to be. There are people getting promoted, they are people relocating, there are people checking around the world and I wish I was everyone at their best and there are some others wishing to be me – a paradox!

I wish for some rest and peace after exhaustion then come my little ones yanking and wanting my attention. I wish I had enough energy left to listen to their chatter, carry them around roses and flowers, singing merrily and playing with them instead I shout and scream impatiently, trying to put them to sleep so I can have some time alone to just sip some hot coffee staring at the vast sky.

Cognizance comes likes a cloud engulfing my mind and slowly begins to uncover and strip my wishes of who they truly are..

Wishes can be a kaleidoscope to see what we value in our hearts and the most selfish desires we seek out continuously.

Materialistic wishes to fill our sinking greed -big homes, fancy cars,  expensive jewelry, luxurious vacations. Selfish wishes to safeguard our wounded pride like rewards and recognition’s at places we work, accolades and appreciations in societies and a name and lots of fame at our neighborhood.

Wishes for material prosperity to satiate our greed… or Social success to feed our hungry pride…

Wisdom calls out to us to differentiate if wishes deep inside of us lead to apprehensions, despair, discontentment, envy and the likes. Rather do they drive us to dream higher, work harder and act wiser to have an abundant life?

Learning to differentiate…

Do I wish for material prosperity and social success to fill my greed and pride?

Do I wish for blessings and exaltation which fills me with love, joy, peace and hope?

On the outside they may all look same but it takes a lot of wisdom to see the difference 🙂

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John 10:10

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly.

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Matthew 6:33

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Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.

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Romans 14: 17

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For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

You have kept the good wine until now!

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27th June 2016, Wesley Church

It was a beautiful evening to thank God for all His goodness as my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.

Everything went as planned, there were not many interruptions except for the fact that there were heavy rains that lashed the city and we had some power cuts in between. Of course my sprained leg, which had me limping all through the day!

I cherished the quiet, beautiful evening service which was beyond what words can describe. To witness that God was there holding onto my parents lives, unfolding the 30 long years and weaving that into a beautiful story.

The best of the evening for me personally was my priest Rev. Justus Moni’s sermon  for the couple and the rest of the gathering. The bible reading was from the passage Philippians 4-4-9

However he started off by saying that the couple don’t look like they were 30 years old, but they were just 30 days old. And he related that with the phrase “You have kept the good wine until now!” from the miracle at Cana recorded in the Bible in John 2:1-12

“You have kept the good wine until now” is a statement made by the master of the banquet of the wedding to the bridegroom when in the end the wine served was tastier than the wine served at the beginning of the wedding. In our usual world, we serve the best first and to the end all gets diluted and tastless. However, in the wedding at Cana as recorded in the Bible, something made the wine tastier in the end. It was the miracle Jesus performed, when the wine was over, Jesus changed water into wine and it was tastier!

The one thing that stood out for in the message was – Jesus had used the water and vessels which were used for CEREMONIAL CLEANSING to convert into wine. And the perspective that our dear pastor brought out was that – Today we all are good at questioning, we all love to say what is right, and find faults, we are people of the law – we tear the law apart to justify our actions and deny the others (so often one does in a marriage). We are all like the ceremonial cleansing water, which points out to our mistakes, but Jesus can turn us into wine. And that is how we can last till the end and taste good!

When Jesus truly comes into our life’s – it is never about who is right, who is wrong. It is all about forgiveness and love. This alone can be the greatest recipe for strong marriages!

“You have kept the good wine until now” can be a claim  when we have Jesus in our lives!

 

Standards

Visiting my sister’s house turns out to be solving a maze puzzle, gets complicated for the reason that there are so many lanes, and all the cute independent houses looking alike!

Nevertheless, my hubby had cracked the code, last night he took us straight to her house without having to call someone for directions! After having some pleasant conversations and meeting people, while we were returning he was telling me how he figured it all out!

Amidst all the similar houses, there was one house which was painted in an unusual shade of Green which became a landmark for finding which street to enter, which right to go and which made it easy to find the way.

When my husband finished telling me how he cracked the elusive route to a simple one using the green house as a landmark, I immediately blurted in my usual questioning mode – What if the owners of the house changed the paint color?

Well, my husband laughed over it and there was silence in the car!

Pic Courtesy: Planview.com

In an ever changing world, what happens when the standards are changed?

Well, in this case of finding my sisters house, we would have gone round and round, in and out of the lanes, at the slightest stress we would have reached out for help asking someone to pick us up – kinda simple solution!

What about our journey of life?

What is the purpose of our life?

Where do we want to reach?

Our standards for quality life are – a better job, a big house, a branded car, a luxurious vacation, a glorious name and dynamically our standards keep changing based on what our nearest comparable neighbor has.

We cannot measure success based on changing standards, we need an ABSOLUTE to measure progress, to help us find the way!

Our little sojourn on this land will be very un-fulfilling  and we will be going in rounds, getting so stressed and frustrated if our standards are changing each and every time.

That ABSOLUTE standard is possible only when we put God in the center and pull ourselves out of the center and have HIS words and law as Standards!

What standards do we have for ourselves?

Right in the Box!

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Courtesy: Google

The beginning of every new month is filled with activities of all sorts to keep my goals going. As the month of May 2016 was nearing its end, I was unusually excited about cleaning my to-do lists and plan for a better month.

I had one concern, my weight was increasing uninterrupted and that was weighing on my heart. On 31st May 2016, I pulled up courage to walk up to a nearby gym and talk to the gym owner and the instructor. I told them my endless list of complaints with my growing waist size to the unhealthy, lethargic feeling I had about my lifestyle. They were happy to have a new customer, very confidently I told them I will be there at sharp 5:30 am the next day.

I realized at around 9:30 PM, that I dint have any shoes for the gym and took my two wheeler and ripped past the roads to find any shop open and to my disappointment there were none of the branded stores open. I dint give up, in a local store I found some reasonably comfortable shoes and decided to give it a try.

I was excited

I was determined

I prayed

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing loudly and it was my transport team calling me for my cab!

Sigh!

It was 7:05 am when I received the call, and I was sitting right inside the cab at 7:15 almost about to doze off for another hour before I reach my work spot.

Annoyed and irritated about myself, seeing my determination disintegrate into nothing but a failed dream I kept silent not wanting to even think about any damn thing but just be left alone.

When the anger inside of me cooled down, thoughts ravaged my little complex mind. I know I desire to have a healthy lifestyle but I am closed inside of a box. One side of it pictured my two little children who needed my attention, the other side reflected my happy family times, the top of the box was filled with passions of many kinds, the bottom was filled with a 12 hour job to pay my bills!

Inside this box of mine, I hardly get 6-7 hours of sleep and I certainly cannot afford to loose out on rest. It is an absolute non-negotiable!!! Sadly I was trying to defy an absolute by trying to get up early and force myself into a gym regime.

Subsequently, my little machine dint stop thinking… And a couple of distressed discussions with my better half got myself thinking within the box.

This is what Gym means to me now-

  1. Walking for 10 mins ANYTIME of the day whenever I get time.
  2. As much as possible ditch the elevator and take the steps (Oh I can save electricity as well 🙂 )
  3. Take Hannah down for feeding her dinner and run after her (Stop pressurizing my mom and maid to feed her, giving the excuse of my long hours at work)
  4. A 1o minute youtube exercise with my daughter Jessica WHENEVER I get time (https://youtu.be/aKFVZu_4Lq4)

Inside or out side the box, clear priorities and a little discretion to differentiate a NEGOTIABLE from a NON-NEGOTIABLE can be a panacea for our complex issues!

A lot can be messed by altering the non-negotiable and clinging hard on the negotiable!

Know the difference!

I love the Serenity Prayer, reciting it for years yet its need remains for ever!

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Scattered clouds

The weather seems very unpredictable at Hyderabad since the last month. Sometimes its raining and sometimes its windy and most of the time really, really hot.

Studying the sky from my balcony has become my favorite hobby. I see the huge black clouds and know its raining in some parts of the city, I hear the birds chirp and know its time for the sun to set. The noise of the dangling cans hung from my balcony grill lets me know there’s a mighty breeze sweeping over my neighborhood. When it rains, I know I cannot see the bright blue sky!

But, the scattered clouds are exclusive, they do not bring rains, they do not signify much but they do look beautiful – a patch here and a patch there and the entire sky is filled.

My mind like the sky, has been covered with scattered thoughts. It looks clouded but isn’t raining, nor windy, nor anything fruitful has ever been achieved with my scattered thoughts.

Five months of the year 2016 are over, my goals for the year look un-achievable at the most. I peep into my mind and see there are a lot of scattered thoughts, some about my faith, some about my health, some about my goals, some about my relationships, some about my responsibilities, some assumptions about others, some judgement, a few convictions and many many thoughts.

All the varied thoughts are not bad in itself, they are intentions of my heart and can bring a lot of good. Thoughts that are varied can be very stressful at the same time, contradictory emotions of various kinds can leave me clouded and heavy.

Thoughts, ideas, plans, intentions- all of this have have the ability to flood my surrounding with goodness. For that to happen, they need to coalesce and the only unifying force I see is when I bring all of them under the submission of God’s will. 

God’s will can never be outside how Jesus sums up the entire law and the prophets in just two commandments –

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

My thoughts/intentions/plans in light of these commandments unifies my goals and lets me know if I am either self centered or under the authority of my creator.

 

Journey and Destination

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The hills surrounding Araku valley, Vizag, India

Nothing delights me more than nature, and when its a holiday across the mountains going up and down, through the wild trees, the enthralling views up the hill or down the valley – are the things I love.  I love the fresh air brushing through my face, I dont mind hurting my neck, and constantly gaze through the windows.

We had a short trip to Araku with the extended family last weekend and it was a complete package of fun, food and nature! Firsst time, we traveled with my second daughter who is a year old. I felt I’ve grown old this time around, I was able to say “no” to many things I would have once spruced with excitement just on hearing words like beach, museum, caves, walk, etc. Rather I chose otherwise to stay back with my little girl doing nothing but sit quietly and enjoy her company.

I always choose the window seat, when we take bus/ train to the hills anywhere, and I love the seat close to the driver because it gives a better view. As we drove through the hills I noticed something common but it made a lot of sense to me this time. I looked as far as I could until my eyes hurt, somewhere beyond the hills is the destination we all were looking forward to.

What I noticed was that, I could see only a small portion of the road and I dont exactly know when there will be bends, when we will climb another hill, how many more sharp bends, and narrow tunnels to pass before I reach my destination.

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I could choose to worry about all those things that could exist along the way, and miss out on the wonderful experience of the thrill at each steep bend, or just look out and enjoy the beauty of nature and the creation, or watch the frantic monkeys, the tall oak trees or listen to the sound of a water fountain somewhere between the woods and just enjoy the beauty of the “present moment”.

I saw the drivers hand in action, twisting and turning the steering wheel as he ripped through the hills. All of us, sit through the bus even without realizing we trust the driver to take us safely to the destination. Also, I realized that there is a path that is already paved and clearly marked to take us to the destination and probably a known guide/driver is better than an unknown traveler.

The same analogy applies to our lives, most often we are either under the pile of past disappointments or we crumble under the weight of future engagements and miss the precious moments of today!

Remember, we have a road that is already laid – its the Calvary road where Jesus paid for my every sin. I just need to trust him and know he is driving me to the other shore. Our wisdom, and knowledge is very limited in this vast, huge world of so many “unknowns”. It’s best to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to whisper to us the road we need to take.

 

Life becomes simpler when we view – Life as a journey; Hope for eternity; Trust the guide; And enjoy every moment that we come across

When Prayers are unanswered

As I looked out of my balcony two days ago, it smelled of rain, dark clouds loomed as far as my eyes could see. I started praying, God of heaven and earth, you are the reason for all good things and I pray that you would flood my area with rain and we would have a heavy downpour. I prayed with faith, I said I know oh Lord, when we pray with faith we can move mountains, can you not hear my prayer for rain.

And by the end of the night I was quite disappointed, that my prayer was unanswered and my mind which connects everything quickly found another unanswered prayer just a few days ago.

Last week, we had installed our brand new AC to beat the heat, the guy who fixed the AC had used the electric point which was on the inverter and at night for some reason probably heavy load on the inverter caused complete disruption of power supply.. We were so busy with our younger daughter’s first birthday celebrations that we couldn’t fix the electric issue and we were in the dark for two days. We tried reaching so many electricians but none of them came over to help. Since the night we lost power I had been praying REALLY HARD and I believe even my husband was praying for a MIRACLE. The response was SILENCE and DARKNESS. And the darkness created many other issues on the final day of Hannah’s birthday after all the planning, everything seemed to fall apart.

My faith crumbled under the weight of quite a few unanswered prayers and a sour discouragement went through me

The jazz and the sound of the party soon faded away, like calm after the storm I lay on the bed with just one question still lingering – Why God doesn’t answer all prayers?

My prayer for light wasn’t illegitimate?

My prayer that I would have some creative “thank you” gifts for the birthday party wasn’t selfish?

My prayer that I should look good for the party dressed in the theme color wasn’t too much?

My prayer for rain was not bad?

No answer yet…

Lord are you there???

Silence..

I searched for answers.. Not finding one.. I was left with two choices

  1. Don’t question God, just simply trust in his Sovereignty
  2. Question God and stop trusting until he answers

I am someone who always goes with answers like – Both 1 and 2 or All the above being the “uncertain me”..

Well, two days ago while I was leaving home for the Vacation Bible Study I realized I had forgotten my entire KIT at church which had all the essentials for the class I am teaching. And then though my faith was poor, I prayed – “God please help me find the kit”. I reached church and then attended the teachers devotion and as I walked down I was reminded about my lost kit and very casually I told one of my cousin that I had lost my kit. And very very surprisingly, one girl who just passed me stopped and looked into my face and asked me “Is it the green file”

Yeah it is, I said.

She said “I found it yesterday and kept it on the table.”

I went in hurriedly and looked at some tables in the church, I couldn’t find.

I found this girl, right behind me. She pointed to a book rack placed a few feet above my head which was beyond visibility.

I thanked her and walked into the church to attend the service.

Did I find the kit because I prayed and God answered my prayer?? Well no no.. Its just a kit… my discouraged soul wasnt yet ready for small miracles…

But later my heart, mind and soul gathered to reason out..!

The probability of missing the kit in a place where 200 kids have gathered is very high..

The probability of someone taking responsibility of a deserted teachers kit is extremely low;

The probability of me finding the file, on my own in a huge church with multiple pews, multiple tables and in the place it was kept is NULL!

The probability that the same person who kept the kit safely bumping into me at the same time, in a gathering of 300 people and overhearing me talk about the kit and she relating it to the kit is something I CANNOT COMPREHEND!

Wohoooo.. Something like an electricity passed through my body… My blind eyes could see the goodness of God, a supreme, all knowing, all powerful, yet Good beyond our understanding. His ways and thoughts are way beyond ours and we cannot fathom

Quoting C.S.Lewis,

“For prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted.”

God doesn’t grant our prayers, though it may seem good to us when all it would do is destroy us. 

How did I conclude this –

I said we both prayed hard that power be restored and we would sleep peacefully and not face the consequences of a dark home, especially when we have a big birthday celebration. And we prayed we would find SOME electrician. After two days of darkness and the busyness, my dad was reminded of some good electrician and gave him a call. He came along with two of his attendants. And he inspected our house and the problem and then he said, the entire wiring of the house is done improperly. The electricity has to be split in three phases so that the load on the inverter is minimal, however the previous electrician who had installed it had wired all of them together and we were facing tripping of electricity quite often, but we never much bothered due to our busy schedules.

But the issue was so huge, the electrician said that we were just too lucky because, our AC could have been destroyed if there were power cuts that night when our total electricity got disrupted :o. The work had taken more than half a day, rewiring the entire house.

Had God answered our prayers for power that night we would have destroyed our AC, quite an expensive one!

Had God answered the prayer of finding SOME electrician, he would have done some quick fixes but the major problems would have remained, we needed a good, skilled electrician and we needed close to half a day time, which we couldn’t have afforded that day!

While, in all the mess my faith crumbled, many situations like this in the past have thought me to trust God at all times, though many times I do get discouraged.

Prayer is important, it taps into the divine when we don’t have solutions ourselves. Prayers aren’t answered when what we ask is silly (though we may view it as important).

Pray without ceasing;

Be thankful at all times!

Trust in God’s goodness;

Accept the sovereignty of God!

It isn’t easy when prayers aren’t answered, but when we TRUST God, when we believe all he does is good for those who believe in him, He always proves FAITHFUL!

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Despite, all the mess it was all beautiful! Thank you Lord!!

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