Same Page But New Expectation!

Jan 1. 2016! I sat down in my usual spot, near my bed on the mat. As I turned my The 365 Day Bible to the page that says, January 1, I was overwhelmed with a sense of awe. I have been using this Bible for over 20 years. Thus I have turned to this page numerous times. So nothing new, a routine by now! Then why did I have the emotions I experienced? Why was I filled with a new expectation, a new apprehension and a new hope? Of course, the New Year has something to do with it. But that’s not it.IMG-20160101-WA0005.jpg

I realized that it has to do with my spirit tuning in to the Spirit of God to  listen to what He will speak to me through His Word. As I have quieted my spirit, mind and body, I was ready to listen to Him. And He spoke.  As I journaled my reflections from my reading for the day, my eyes welled up with tears. I knew my spirit was connecting with His Spirit. Something I want to experience all throughout my days.

I have shared my thoughts about spending Time Alone with God in my earlier blog, A Habit Worth Investing Your Time. There I shared a method for reflective reading of the Scripture.  In another blog, A Gift and a Shift I have penned how I was drawn to the desire to read the entire Bible in one year through the gift of my great uncle.

I want to encourage all of us to enjoy the experience of spending the Time Alone with of God through reading of the Bible. Besides, I encourage all of us to read the whole Bible in one year. There are many Bible reading plans to guide us in this process. The one I follow is found in  http://www.biblica.com/en-us/bible/reading-plans/ This guides us to read the entire Bible in a year. Recently I heard about M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan http://www.mcheyne.info/calendar.pdf. Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843) developed this plan to guide the reader through the New Testament and Psalms twice, and the rest of the Bible once, each year.

It is not about deciding which plan is the best, but adjusting our schedule and prioritizing our time to escape to a quiet place with the Bible and see what God wants to speak to us every day. As the years go by we will find ourselves in the same page but with renewed expectation to hear from our Master and Lord. May we enter into His presence to taste and see that His mercies are new everyday!

Happy New Year 2016!

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God, My Divine Host

I grew up in an extremely hospitable home. My parents went out of their way to literally accommodate 100’s of people. Some of them made our home theirs for couple of days every week, others stayed couple of weeks  every year,  while some stayed with us for many years.  This is beside those who ate at our home every day.

Without realizing hospitality became part of my nature.  Couple of days after I  arrived in images.jpgmy husband’s apartment, we invited his friend’s family for dinner.  Even though I was not at all an experienced cook,  I tried to make a special Indian dish for them. In the last 26 years of our life together we have invited many to our home. Yet I don’t claim that I am as hospitable as my parents.

Only recently have I begun to realize that I am the guest of the Divine Host.  I did not realize that I have an open invitation to share in the fellowship with Him, so He came to me and said I am your Immanuel who stays with you forever.  Actually I was not in a  state to know the depth, height and width of this fellowship so He tried to explain it with his deeds.  But still I didn’t get it. Then He invited me to His table, Lord’s Supper to show me the extent of the fellowship He sets before me.

I was not part of the elite group when I received the invitation.  Nobody would have called me to such a great banquet. He found me among the poor, the crippled,  the blind and the lame in the alley and in the street.  Thus I became the guest of the Divine Host. I got the glimpse of His unconditional love for the first time.

Yet my story didn’t end with the banquet. He did not ask me to leave the banquet after it was over. I realized that He has invited me to Himself not just to a meal or home. The ultimate hospitality!  I was invited to share His life, to be His daughter, precious indeed as He purchased me for God to serve Him as a  royal priest. Forever I belong to Him and He belongs to me.

Then He said, “extend the same hospitality to others in the alleys and streets.” I missed the point at first,  then I put a small step but feared that my new friends would call me “friend of sinners, drunkard,  and glutton.” I valued their opinion more than His commission.  I often looked to others and not Him to whom I belong for eternity.

He waited all these years to teach me the implications of being the guest of the Divine Host. Now at least I have turned in that direction of being one. Yet, “Lord, there is more to learn. Give me the grace to lean on You every day to be hospitable like You to extend Your love to the unloved and unlovable.”

How has this thought inspired you? Please leave your comments.

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Who is Right?

Have you ever been in a situation where you can feel the tension rising in the air when one is trying to prove that he/she has the right opinion or view? Even when no one is trying to prove anything the monologue continues with great zeal. Usually the more mature ones opt to nod their heads approving of the other. They know that there is at least some truth on their side but are still willing to let go. The other settles down knowing that he/she is always right. The insecurity masked under the zeal is clear but never addressed.  

If our children behave like that then you know they are going to grow out of that. Or if the person is a stranger or someone you see occasionally, then you can afford to ignore it and be kind.  But what if you have to face it from the close family member or a co-worker who is 40+?  This can be quite an exhausting and choking experience after some time.  

Yet whether in family or work we are called to be different. Paul exhorts us “And may God, the source of patience and encouragement, enable you to have the same point of view among yourselves by following the example of Christ Jesus” (Rom 15:5, GNB). As I read this, I felt like God is inviting me to be more than what I can be. Then I was reminded of the times when God stood by my side showing His patience and encouragement proving that my fear and others’ judgment were false.

I have missed the mark many times, but His patience made me cross the Red Sea, scale high mountains, and walk on the water.  When I thought sitting in the right and left of His throne was the best place for me, He nudged me to see the bigger picture of being with Him. He showed me that being humble, gracious, and forgiving is better than being ambitious, judgmental, and arrogant. He continues to show me higher planes telling me there is more to grasp to be where He dreams me to be for which  He persistently invests in me His patience and encouragement.

And next time when someone is trying to prove that they are right it is better to guard your heart rather than destroying the relationships while trying to prove that you are right. So bite your tongue, take a deep breath and fall into the bosom of God who is the source of patience and encouragement.

Allow all your insecurities to melt away. May we become cheerleaders as we watch God taking people to the place of security in Him which we treasure.

This is quite a journey, journey of dying to self. God is always right, He is not done with us as He shepherds us in the journey.

Photo Courtesy: www.123rf.com

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Blessed With an Eternal Family

Time has come to say bye to my son again. The one week we spent together was a blessed time of renewal for our soul and spirit. It was indeed the answer to my daily prayer.

Tossing Thoughts

As I packed his breakfast my heart became heavy and my mind tossed between two thoughts: My son needs to be where God wants him to be;  how can I not see him for such a long time?

He Knows the Painimages

Immediately another thought flashed into my mind. Jesus knows this pain. I was reminded of His mother Mary who stood outside the temple hoping to see her son. Later on Jesus was away from his home for almost three years. Being on the road means being away from the safety and security of His home and His loved ones. However, being on earth means away from the safety of heaven. Where will He sleep?  Where will He eat? Who will provide for him shelter and food? Neither His mother nor He knew the answers for these questions.  

Family Away from Home

But definitely His heavenly Father knew the answers. Being away from heaven or from His earthly home never meant away from the presence of His Father. Besides, Jesus clearly knew that He had many mothers, sisters, and brothers away from His home who do the will of the Father just like He does.

Clarity for the Voice

I was just thinking about how I will miss my son quite ignoring how my son would feel being alone in another country.  I could not see how the thought “Jesus knows the pain” can bring comfort to a mother grieving over the imminent separation from her son.

But as I write this blog it became clear that Jesus wanted me to see the turmoil that may be in my son.  I am being filled with the assurance that God will surround him with many who do the will of God and they will be his family away from home.

Indeed an Eternal Family

As long as we are in the will of God, our heavenly Father will provide for us many mothers, sisters, and brothers. They will be our eternal family. So my prayer for my son, “O Lord, may he always stay in the will of his Father. “

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Where a Mother Cannot Reach….

“I do not want lunch or you have to come with me to school.” That was the best solution to the predicament she faced on that day. I understood how my daughter felt. Mouth sores made it difficult for her to chew food.  As a mother I did not want her to skip lunch especially because she had exams in the morning and afternoon. On the previous day I had packed some bread and a cup of milk for her lunch. Her classmates thought it was funny for a third grader to eat bread dipped in milk for lunch. They responded by calling her “baby.”  So she decided that staying hungry is better than being referred to as a baby or her mother’s presence could protect her from being teased by her friends.

images

My heart ached as part of me wanted to be with my child but reality was that I could not be there at lunch time as I worked about 20 kms away from her school.  I reminisced about my own childhood.  As my mother had died during my mid-teen years, I knew the feeling of a child who longs for her mother.  But I know that mothers cannot always be with their children.

I held my daughter close to me and said, “Dear, I want to be there with you during lunch, but you know I cannot. However I know that Jesus is with you always even in times when I cannot be with you. He will be with you during lunch time.” I sensed peace on her face.

Years have passed after that incident.  Now she in college about 700 kms away from me. She came home for two days due to certain illness.  When the day of her return came, I guess I was in more pain than her. I wanted to be near her to care for her.  But my schedules again made it impossible to fulfill the desire. Later she voiced the same wish in between tears and cries. My heart cried yet I want to be strong for her. I was constantly troubled by the limitation I experienced.

Parents can agree with me that they have felt the same many times in life.  Regardless of the age of our children, we want to hold them in our arms to assure them of our love for them. But the truth is that the everlasting arms of God are always holding them and us to see us through every difficult time. The plan of God is always to build us and to bring a good future for us. Where a mother cannot reach, God is already there!

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When I Feel I’m Better than my Spouse

All of us have come across someone who feels that he/she is better than anyone. Will one shed that feeling because they enter into marriage? Rather in the early days and months of marriage, couples are busy with many things that their individual differences are not brought to surface. In these early days, couples tend to communicate effortlessly at length. Their energy is spent on pleasing each other and to surprise each other. Individual differences are minimized and  partners are very accepting. They are “purely” in love and this love is blind. Even if they “see” the shortcomings they are more than happy to bear it. Thus couples tend to overlook any shortcomings of each other. This is the romantic stage. A time to cherish!

Soon this stage began to wean off, couples began to notice their individual differencessuperiority_vs__inferiority_3_by_chiptheghost-d2yhib3. They find themselves in disillusionment regarding these differences. Some feel that they are better than the other with regards to job, salary, parenting, organizing, or communication. Some resort to blame their spouse, find excuse and others actively search for ideas and strategies to handle these differences.  As couples work at each one of these, they become successful in certain areas but can get discouraged in other areas especially where personality and temperament meddles. In reality, certain habits and situations continue to remain which cause one to behave in a certain way.  Thus the other partner sees it  as something that need to be improved.  This can cause disagreements and even conflicts.  Not only the relationship between couples suffer but also children suffer.  This can cause disturbances  in other areas of life like work, church, relationship with family members.

However when unresolved issues make one to feel superior to one’s spouse, disequilibrium happens in marriage. Oneness in marriage is under threat which can be problematic. The one feeling superior become conceited and the weakness of the other is often highlighted. Disrespectful words and behaviours find their origin from feeling and thinking superior which can not only tear apart marriage but also lives. When the other spouse begins to retaliate, it can further pull them apart.

The Bible commands us to value others above us in humility and to be considerate of other’s interests. Besides one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to help us in our weakness. When applied in the context of marriage, another aspect is also involved. The dream of God for marriage is for the two people to develop oneness which supersedes all other human relationships. Thus harboring superiority complex in any relationship is against the will of God much more in marriage.

What can one do here for not to allow superiority complex to destroy the intended oneness? How can oneness be preserved with care and caution?

  • There need to be a change the behaviour and values. One without the other can be ineffective. So work with the perspectival change and behavioural change in order to overwrite  superiority complex with acceptance of your spouse.
  • Put your effort on learning to encourage and support your spouse. Also value and compliment contributions of your spouse.
  • Remind yourself of your love for your spouse and carefully take small steps for your love to grow.
  • Reflect to see whether there is insecurity in you as superiority may arise from your insecurity.
  • Specify policies to define boundaries in relationship. Never put down each other before others, never use foul words or name calling, never inflict physical injury, never compare each other with others, always respect each other
  • Pray regularly for your marriage and for each other that you would grow in oneness in your relationship
  • Photo Courtesy: http://www.erepublik.com/
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A Gift and A Shift

My husband and I along our infant son met my maternal great uncle for the first and last time in my life in 1995. He arranged the stay for us at the hotel where he was briefly staying in Naples, FL. I told him about my memory of his parents and his home on the opposite shore of the river near my grandparent’s house. He too shared some old memories. The most memorable incident of this visit is the gift he gave a One-Year Bible. It was evident that it was not a gift for the sake of a gift but intentional and deliberate. His expectation of me to finish reading the Bible in a year was clear to me along with the importance he gave for daily family prayer.

I am proud to have such family members who instill eternal values in their kith 670px-Read-The-Bible-In-a-Year-Step-2and kin. The Bible became part of our family prayer. I found another One-Year Bible in my husband’s library which became the Bible I began to read for my daily meditation. Since 1996, I read the same Bible with the desire of reading the whole Bible in a year and to hear God’s voice.

Do I accomplish the goal every year? Of course not! I have missed assigned reading portions for each day many times over the years. I may not be able to read the Bible every day. But what is important to me is the opportunity to have a broader perspective of the Bible rather than reading my favorite portions and passages year after year. Besides, every first day of the New Year gives me a fresh start as I open my Bible to Genesis Chapter1, Matthew Chapter 1, and Psalm 1. This gives me a new expectation for the year and a delight to start not only the whole year in mind but also the whole Bible in mind.

I am glad that my great uncle’s envisioning has become part of my daily routine. It took me to another level of my Bible reading habit which has never wore me down. Rather to me it is an opportunity to affirm my habit of beginning my day with a fresh look at the Word along with a big goal of reading the whole Bible.

I have blogged about the importance of making Bible reading a daily habit in one of my previous blogs: A Habit Worth Investing Your Time. Yet this blog intends to take you to a next level of Bible reading: to develop a desire and a habit of reading the whole Bible every year. However it is not intended to develop guilt when you miss a day but to return to the Bible each day with a longing to hear from God.

Why wait to have a bigger vision of Bible reading habit not only for you but also for your acquaintances? One-Year Bible is available online or there are many one year reading plans on the Web. For eg., Biblica has given the reading plan titled: Bible in a Year: 365-Day Reading Plan It is not about the reading plan but about valuing and reading the entire Bible in a year.

Besides, I learn other lessons as I reminiscence the visit. What kind of influence do I intend to have on others and on my family members? If I see a person only for one time, what do I want them to remember me for or what will they remember me for?

Photo courtesy: Wikihow.com

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