Friday, January 27, 2012

And Then He Saw The Light

Saul was ever so passionate
About pleasing the Lord his way
And all that he thought was so right
Was in fact not the Divine Way.

Christ wasn’t the Truth he believed in
‘Down with the Church’ was his goal
No Jew was to change to Christian
The price was his life by the stone.

While on to Damascus, as Saul went
The Spirit of Jesus him followed
Blinding his eyes and intellect
To change his life inside out.

This small man who so great in power
Among the Jews was now clothed
In robes of grace by the Spirit
And lived for Jesus alone

That day while on to Damascus
The man that was once known as Saul
Renewed his life in God’s presence
Became the ‘live-for-Christ’ Paul.

Change me O Lord with your presence
Shelter me within your grace
Transform my life with your Spirit
As with Paul, my blindness You change.

Have we seen the light?  Are we led by the light? Or, do we recognize the light?
Praise God for Jesus, the light that shines in the world, through all the gloom, darkness, sadness and weariness of struggles.  Through Him everything becomes bright, radiant, upbeat and jubilant. Take heart, and do not let the darkness of this world darken your disposition.  The light is free for all who want to see. 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Poverty: A State of the Bank Account and Spirit

Blessed are the poor in Spirit

There is one thing that many of us forget:  It is not a shame to be poor.  We may not have the luxuries that a whole lot of others have, BUT... I say it again, it is not a shame to be poor.  In fact, there is dignity in whatever status of life we are in.  There is dignity in hard work, trying to make ends meet... working hard to achieve something only hard work rewards... in an honest way.

I can speak from the point of a writer...  How many of us, despite the very low article earnings from sites still write for those meager amounts?  Despite the pittance that is paid, we still work hard at increasing the number of articles in our portfolios with the hope that one day it will turn out to be rewarding for even better writing opportunities.

With jobs being scarce all over the world, and common man left to fend for himself in desperate ways, it is not a shame when one struggles with whatever little job is around that gets him by to earn in a dignified manner.  In fact, it is for those who do not have the inclination to work that cannot fall in this category of 'dignified earner'.   In fact, the Bible tells us... 'Those who do not work, should not eat."

It is only at difficult times that we  push ourselves to the limit... to bring out the best in us.  If things came easy, we take it for granted.  But when we have hard times, we learn how to rise above the occasion.  It's alright to be poor provided we learn how to adapt to our conditions, and that means being satisfied with 'today'.

The Bible speaks of another kind of poverty: the poverty of Spirit.  There are those who are poor in Spirit. These are the people who are blessed.  Not those who think that they have the Spirit and 'know it all' and are invincible and saved, and all else are doomed.  No.  Those who are poor in Spirit!  It is only those who recognize themselves as  poor in the Spirit, can pray for and ask the Lord to infill them more and more in the Spirit.  And the reward for this spiritual poverty and yearning to be filled is the promise of the 'kingdom of heaven'.  OK... so its spiritual poverty for now and heavenly riches later.  Sounds good enough for me.  Isn't that what we hope to achieve in the long run?

Today I want to take the time to thank God for the financial and spiritual conditions my life is in. I also praise God for what He takes me through so I can use the gifts and talents HE has given me to help me rise above the situations and bring out the best in me.  I praise God for showing me ways and means by which I can do it, and also leading me to people who help empower and strengthen me.  I also praise God for my longing to be filled more and more with His Holy Spirit, for it is this Spirit that helps me in every sphere of my day to day activity and gets me to where I rightfully belong in the end.

I praise God for this so called 'poverty' that we go through and pray that we understand what's important for our lives, work hard at earning our living, and be satisfied with who we are and what we go through today. Amen.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3)

I Love to be Free Again!

I love to be free again.
Arise with the vibrant dawn.
Away with these heavy chains

into the tempestuous sky
to escape where wild geese fly.
I love to be free again.

My wings cannot be clipped
nor my spirit held tight in grip;
away with these heavy chains.

Unlock the door of my cell.
Hear the resounding toll of the bell.
I love to be free again.

Breathe in the sweet, fresh air.
No more suffocation or stale despair.
Away with these heavy chains

to roam without a care
build nest or soar away.
I love to be free again.
Away with these heavy chains.

I like the analogy of freedom; that which relates to the freedom we enjoy and take for granted.  There are men and women out there who are at the forefront of danger to ensure our safety... and we think little of them until the time we are struck with calamity, unrest and crime. How much of this freedom do we understand?  How about all the types of freedom we enjoy as citizens of a place - freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to live according to our traditions and customs, etc. 

On a more spiritual note, I love the freedom I experience as a Christian; one who loves Jesus and lives within His protecting arms.  There is so much I can dream about and dream to achieve... and also hope to achieve, because of this freedom I have in His care. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  'All things'...  Amazing freedom!  While I have been given many talents, I can also dream of learning something new, because of the freedom of Spirit.  I can love freely, I can smile freely, I can speak and laugh, walk and sing... all without limitations, only because of His grace given to me freely.  I can pray and expect to receive answers...  because of this freedom of faith... to be able to believe in a God who is mightier than anything I could possible comprehend.  Unthinkable freedom.  I love this gift of freedom, where I am allowed to be me according to the way I have been created; unique and special.  I love this freedom, that no matter what I do in faith, it becomes an act that is pleasing to the Lord. 

Above all, I stand amazed at the freedom my soul enjoys in being washed daily by the precious blood of the Lamb; for once I was lost but by His death, I am now saved.  

Praise God for the different forms of freedom that we enjoy - in all aspects of our lives and especially in our walk with the Lord. Renewed in His Spirit, washed in His blood, I love to be free again!

Image Credit: Goose Flying

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Effectively Human

Effectively Human

Welcome to Effectively Human, a website dedicated to human dignity and the preservation of life. Visitors to this site can count on one thing when they come here, that human life will be honored, respected, nurtured and nourished through these pages.
Effectively Human will explore and discover humanity—the best of it, the worst of it and everything in between. This site is about people, their triumphs, failures, worries, frustrations, relationships, lifestyles, hopes and dreams. It is pro-life, anti-prejudice, and guaranteed to raise some eyebrows.

After all, if everyone is right, then no one has a reason to disagree with anyone else in the first place. Oh yes! Opinions will be formed, debated and maybe even changed. That’s not the ultimate goal, however. The real goal of Effectively Human is to celebrate life from beginning to end, with the hope of making a positive difference in our world.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In the Belly of a Whale?

Hardships are part of human struggles.  Hardships are there for us to be tested, by which we rise above and become stronger, bolder, braver and character-wise richer individuals.  However, many times when we face hardships, we notice a trend such as "my life isn't going anywhere no matter what I do or try".  This is quite true for all of us at some point or the other.  There are people who have made huge changes based on this revelation and have come through with flying colors, literally.

Is your life's journey heading on the right path, or do you seem as though you are still struggling with no solutions?  Perhaps it might be because you are heading to Jaffa instead of Nineveh.  Jaffa?  Nineveh?  Yep... Jaffa instead of Nineveh.  Stay with me.  Jonah was instructed to go to Nineveh to preach the Word of God.  But he chose to go in the exact opposite direction instead... and headed to Jaffa (by sea).  You discern whether what he did was right or wrong.  The journey he took was not successful, and to make matters worse, he was thrown into the sea where he was swallowed up by a big fish... presumably a whale.  There he stayed for three days in the belly of the whale before he was finally out; but only AFTER he had repented and agreed to go the route the Lord planned. And he was happy. 

Has your life been thrown into the tempestuous sea of roaring waves and swift currents only to be swallowed up by whales and sharks?  Think about it.  Does it seem that you have landed in the belly of a whale?  Stagnant and with no fresh air?  Suffocating while trying to live through the struggles?  Yes, think about it...  if you have landed in the belly of a whale, so to speak, that means that you are given another chance.  All is not lost in life.  Stop with what you are doing right now and re-prioritize what's really necessary for your life.  It's perhaps God's way of telling you that you are on the wrong route and its time for you to repent and head back 180 degrees.   

Ask the Lord which path he wants you to take.  Ask the Lord to direct your path.  And more than anything, thank God for all the hardships that we face in life, for it is one way by which we hear the Lord speak to us, either commending us for being obedient to His call or with prompts that we've deviated and have to get back on track.  Yes, praise God for all the hardships we face... knowing that we get closer to the heart of God by our repentant response to His warnings. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Angels Among Us

My daughter Ruth in a dress I sewed her in September 2010

Today has been a very satisfying and promising day.  My first customer for the year turned up, for whom I am to sew a couple of dresses.  The dresses are for a very special occasion and I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement the couple shared at my taking their order for the same.  I am to sew a dress for their oldest daughter who is eight years old.  They checked the pattern online and came over to my place to discuss the material and lace that will be required and to seek my opinion about the choice of pattern and style.

While my heart was soaring with the order given, I also felt humbled that the Lord directed these people to me through a 'casual acquaintance'.  When we befriend people, little do we realize that we welcome angels. I am so grateful to the Lord for all the people involved with today's sewing order; the couple and their kids, the casual acquaintance.. and also my neighbors through whom I met this 'casual acquaintance'.  Praise God for all the angels who walk into our lives when we least expect them.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:2)

Friday, January 20, 2012

I lift up my hands...

An instrument of worship
I lift up my hands to your name.
Lord make me an instrument
An instrument of worship
I lift up my hands to your name.

I love this hymn...

This hymn focuses on a one aspect of worship; me are the instrument of worship, with my hands lifted up. 
Instrument of worship? 


It is not enough that timbrels and tambourines, drums, guitars, flutes, harps, pianos and other instruments be part of worship expression. I have to be the main part of it.  If my heart is not into worship, all my prayer effort is of now use.  My worship should be pleasing to the Lord's ear...  maybe not in musical form, but my praises should be like sweet sounding music to the Lord's ear.

Today I praise God for creating me to be an instrument of worship.  I pray that with each passing day, my tunes of praises and worship to the Lord may be sweeter and more melodious, for there is nothing like sweet-sounding, beautiful, peaceful praises in the presence of the Lord. And I also pray that the more hurdles there may seem in life, the more I will want to lift up my hands in praise to the Lord. 

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. 
(Psalm 134:2)

Monday, January 16, 2012

He is Exalted

Today, I choose to praise God for who He is: to simply praise and thank Him for His presence in my life...  for His Holy Spirit in me.  I praise God that He is who He is and everything He is to me.  Praise You Lord God, enthroned in the heavens, exalted over all the earth, the Alpha and the Omega, the Living God, my Savior, Redeemer and Friend, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father...

There is none like You O God. 

There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
(1 Samuel 2:2)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jesus Wept

The love between true friends is hard to miss
The pain of grief they feel is evident
As Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus.

He heard his pal was seriously ill
He waited, as it was His Father’s will
The love between true friends is hard to miss.

The sisters Martha and Mary were sad
Why he was late, they could not understand
As Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus.

“O Lord, if You were here he would have lived”
With sorrow in her heart Martha chided.
The love between true friends is hard to miss.

“I am the resurrection and the life
Believe in Me; My friend will be alive”,
said Jesus, as He wept for Lazarus.

He ordered Lazarus out from the grave
And glorifying His Father, life he gave.
The love between true friends is hard to miss
As Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus.

Why does Jesus weep for me?  Why does Jesus feel my pain and know my fears.  Why?  If only I could understand the depth of His love for me I would perhaps be able to understand my neighbor's pain; my neighbor's grief... and know exactly how to respond to them.  Thank you Lord for weeping for me every time my heart seems dead to life, and for bringing back my soul into your presence.

Image Credit:  Pastor Cal's stuff

Friday, January 13, 2012

Come. See.

Today at church, the celebrant gave us an interesting take-on for the theme 'Come and See'.  (This has reference to the apostles asking Jesus where he lived and Jesus answers "Come, see").

Apparently there are three surprises waiting for us when we eventually reach heaven.  

The first : We will be surprised to find ourselves there. (Of course, this has to happen.  Its bound to happen as this is what we live for).

The second:  We will be surprised to find our loved ones waiting for us.  (Oh what a reunion!!!  Sweet joy!)

The third:  We will definitely be surprised to meet the very same people who we do not want to meet here on earth already there ahead of us 'in heaven'.  ( Whoa... have I reached the right gate?  Now, lets take a moment for that to sink in.   Do I 'HAVE' to meet them there?)

This is how frail our human nature is like; how narrow and self-centered we are, that we fail to look beyond one's outer covering. There is more to each person if we take the time to see.  We like all that's easy and comfortable in our lives.   Beyond that, where it needs effort to step over hurdles of prejudices, lifestyles, and rigid customs or in our basic mannerisms of being kind to others, we often fail to take that extra leap of faith.

What if we did just that: Jumped right out of ourselves to reach out to those whom we do not like?  Perhaps we might see them in a different and better light after all.   Perhaps this might be the change that we need today; just to make that difference in our lives too.

Praise God for people whom we do not like.  Teach us Lord, to appreciate their lives, even if we do not necessarily believe all that they believe in, and help us to show basic respect towards them even if it is something very difficult to do.  We trust in your grace and strength and thank you for each of them.  Amen.

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”   
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”   
(John 1: 38, 39) 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just a Squab?

This little fledgling, squab or squeaker as it is called, is a little baby pigeon.  I marveled at being there around the time this egg hatched.  There were actually two eggs initially, and I believe one was stolen by a predator. The mother pigeon had built this nest in the corner of the balcony at my brother-in-law's apartment which is on the 6th floor. 

It is one thing to see an egg in a nest, but it is another to see a little baby bird emerge. This little squab represents life and is a reminder of how little I once was and how much I have grown, succeeded and accomplished in life over the years.  If this little bird can be so important that it is according to God's plan to be born and be part of nature around us, how much more important I must be, to be made in the image and likeness of God...  to be given gifts and talents, knowledge and wisdom and a heart to love and discern.  Yet, do I realize the magnitude of the gift called 'life' given to me?  

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that you may have life and have it abundantly. 
(John 10:10)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In the Image of God's Love

This is a photo of Mrs. Beena Varghese, our hostess, at the 'home-stay' (Varnam) we stayed at while on our trip to Wayanad in Kerala (India).  She has been a very gracious hostess, accommodating us with the utmost care, cheer and consideration.  She and her family went out of their way to give into our every whim; even picking up a specific type of coffee for me from the store.  On the first day we stayed there, we decided to have a barbecue session, requesting them to provide us with two chickens (chopped) and with a sheet of wire mesh, as the barbecue stand we brought along with us apparently was missing its grill rack.  And sure enough, they had everything ready for us by evening.  Later that day we had a wonderful barbecue party along with our hosts and other guests who stayed there.  I really appreciate the warm friendship and love they extended out to us.   I realized there is something we could all learn from them.  It was not about the money.  They were simply being who they are; warm, caring, loving and giving people.

Today I praise God for Beena and her family, and for giving us an opportunity to experience God's love through them and the way they looked after us.  I pray that God blesses them abundantly, and no matter what trials and difficulties they go through, I pray their smiles may be ever radiant, and grace abundant.

You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  (John: 15: 14, 15)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Peace ... Sweet Peace

Most of you know that I have been away on a month-long trip.  It has been hectic, tiring, fun, totally enjoyable and also uplifting.  As with my onward journey, my return too from India was via Sri Lanka.  I had to get off at Sri Lanka and wait for eight hours before boarding the next flight home.  Everything went fine and the weather too was lovely.  As I was boarding the second flight, dark clouds just enveloped the place,  and as the plane left the airport, slowly taxing along the runway to set flight, heavy rain poured down.  To add to the stormy overcast, there was also severe lightning.

For the first hour of our journey we experienced a lot of turbulence.  Watching the lightning in the sky around me was totally fascinating.  I for one loved it.  I imagine there were a lot of people who must have been scared as the seat-belt sign was frequently switched on and off.

The one thought that came to mind was the amazing peace God gives in times of storms to those who trust Him.  I could feel his calm and peace and was able to enjoy watching the dark clouds and the lightning.  Our journey continued despite the weather and we reached our destination on time and with a smooth landing. Similar is the case of our everyday journeys through storms and trials.  It is not for us to worry or break our heads over it.  Nor is it for us to be distracted by the thunder, lightning or storm clouds that threaten to envelop us.  God is in control of our trip.  He is the pilot and not us.   He will take us to our destinations and reach us there with smooth landing.

Praise God for peace in the midst of the storms.

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.”  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”  (Mark 4: 39-41)