Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gospel Reading Sept 6


The Gospel reading for Sept 6th is St. Matthew 5: 38 - 48. This is an extremely important chapter for christians, because this is where Jesus addresses his followers and provides them with the roadmap to 'christian living'. It is in fact, the most powerful sermon delivered to mankind by the son of God, who practiced what He preached. It is called 'The Sermon on the Mount'. St. Matthew chpater 5 describes it in detail. Here, Jesus delivered something entirely different from what Moses taught the Israelites.

The Sermon on the Mount starts off with the 8 beatitiudes and describes how a human being should live his life. An average reader of the Bible can understand it clearly because of it's simple language. The reading for Sunday talks about retaliation and 'love your enemies'.

St. Matthew 5:38 - 48

38 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'

39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

When Jesus talks about retaliation, the crowd is amazed because so far, they have been 'taking eye for an eye' and an 'arm for an arm'. Jesus teaches us that we must not return evil for evil, instead seek the good of those who wish us evil. This is what makes a Christian different from others - by treating everyone and even those who hate us, with loving kindness and mercy.

It's almost impossible to even imagine how to love those who hate us. But when we accept God into our lives, when we believe in the love of Holy Spirit, we get the power to forgive and forget. It provides us with the power to overcome revenge, hatred, and hence love our enemies.

Credits: The Holy Bible

Party directions

You are invited for a party at God's house!! Below are the directions to get there:

Make a right onto "Believeth Blvd.

Keep straight and go through the Green Light, which is Jesus Christ.

From there, you must turn onto the "Bridge of Faith," which is over troubled waters.

When you get off the bridge, make a Right and Keep Straight.

You are on the "King's Highway" - Heaven-Bound.

Keep going for three miles: One for the Father, One for the Son and One for the Holy Spirit.

Exit off onto "Grace Blvd." From there, make a Right turn on "Gospel Lane ."

Keep straight and then make another Right onto "Prayer Road ."

As you travel on your way, Yield Not to the traffic on "Temptation Ave." Also, avoid "Sin Street" because it is a DEAD END!! Pass up "Envy Drive," and "Hate Avenue." Also, pass "Hypocrisy Road," "Gossiping Lane," and "Backbiting Blvd."

However, you must go down "Long Suffering Lane", "Persecution Street" and "Trials and Tribulations Avenue." But that's all right, because "VICTORY ROAD" is straight ahead !


Plans for Sept 6

In our next class on Sept 6th, we'll talk about the following:

1. 8 day Lent
2. Onam
3. Lecture on Love (continued...)
4. We'll discuss about the severity of Swine Flu that's making it's rounds in schools and colleges, and what we can do about it.

I am still working on a suitable date to hold an 'open house' with your parents.

I am looking for a volunteer from our class to track Scholar $ earned by each student. All you need to qualify is willingness and knowledge of basic arithmetic. I'll be working with this voluneteer to keep track of the S$ debited/credited.

Make sure you read chapters 1 thru 4, and bring your Sunday school bag with all the tools for our class - come prepared.


Friday, September 4, 2009

One day at a time

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry about. Two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone!!

The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise, whether in splendor or behind a mask of clouds. But it will rise. Until it does we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day: TODAY.

Anybody can fight the battles of just one day. It is when you and I add the burdens of two awful eternities – yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down.

It is not necessarily the experience of today that disturbs one’s peace of mind. It is often times the bitterness for something which happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.

Let us therefore live one day at a time - TODAY.


--- Author Unknown ---

Image Credits: ksl.com

Thursday, September 3, 2009

God: "Do you love me?"

Here is a story about a person talking to God.

One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah! ... the beauty of God's creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, I felt the Lord's presence with me. He asked me, "Do you love me?" I answered, "Of course, God! You are my Lord and Saviour!"

Then He asked, "If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?"

I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs and the rest of my body and wondered how many things I wouldn't be able to do and thought about the things that I take for granted. I answered, "It would be tough Lord, but I would still love You."

Then the Lord said, "If you were blind, would you still love my creation?"

How could I love something without being able to see it? Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and His creation. So I answered, "It's hard to think of it, but I would still love you."

The Lord then asked me, "If you were deaf, would you still listen to my word?"

How could I listen to anything being deaf? Then I understood. Listening to God's Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts. I answered, "It would be tough, but I would still listen to Your word."

The Lord then asked, "If you were mute, would you still praise My Name?"

How could I praise without a voice? Then it occurred to me, God wants us to sing from our very hearts and souls. It never matters what we sound like. And praising God is not always with a song, but when we are persecuted, we give God praise with our words of thanks. So I answered, "Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise Your Name."

And the Lord asked, "Do you really love Me?"

With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, "Yes Lord! I love You because You are the one and true God!"

I thought I had answered well, but God asked, "Then why do you sin?"

I answered, "Because I am only human. I am not perfect."

"Then why in times of peace do you stray the furthest? Why only in times of trouble do you pray the earnest?"

I had no answers ... only tears.

The Lord continued. "Why only sing at fellowships and retreats? Why seek Me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?"

The tears continued to roll down my cheeks. "Why are you ashamed of Me? Why are you not spreading the good news? Why in times of persecution, you cry to others when I offer My shoulder to cry on? Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in My Name?"
"You are blessed with life. I made you not to throw this gift away. I have blessed you with talents to serve Me, but you continue to turn away. I have revealed My Word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge. I have spoken to you but your ears were closed. I have shown My blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have heard your prayers and I have answered them all. Do you truly love me?

I could not answer. How could I? I was embarrassed beyond belief. I had no excuse. What could I say to this? When my heart had cried out and the tears had flowed, I said, "Please forgive me Lord. I am unworthy to be Your child."

The Lord answered, "That is My Grace, My child."

I asked, "Then why do you continue to forgive me? Why do You love me so?"

The Lord answered, " Because you are My creation. You are my child. I will never abandon you. When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you. When you shout with joy, I will laugh with you. When you are down, I will encourage you. When you fall, I will raise you up. When you are tired, I will carry you. I will be with you until the end of days, and I will love you forever."

Never had I cried so hard before. How could I have been so cold? How could I have hurt God as I had done? I asked God, "How much do You love me?"

The Lord stretched out His arms, and I saw His nail-pierced hands. I bowed down at the feet of Christ, my Savior. And for the first time, I truly Prayed.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SAT Essay Writing




Let’s look at SAT’s essay writing section today. Those of you who have launched your preparation phase would have already come across abundant tips and loads of advice. It is easy to get lost amidst all those recommendations. Here are few more:

Write neatly:
Let’s be realistic – during the first few seconds after picking your answer sheet, the teacher glances at it to check for two things involuntarily: neatness and length of your essay. The average time spent by a grader on each essay is approximately 2 minutes. So, that’s all you get – just 2 minutes to impress the grader. Also, there is a good chance to make the grader spend more time on your answer and think twice before awarding you that grade. No grader is going to take the pain to unscramble your words and enjoy the reading. So – write as neatly as you can, only using pencil. Your answer sheet should be extremely neat when someone takes a first look.

Write more:
Based on what I read, writing more on the essay is good. It makes you looks like you are comfortable in delivering material about the topic. Read this link that appeared in New York Times about an MIT prof. talking about writing more on SAT essays. It seems they are not really going to check the facts. According to him, “the longer the essay, the higher the score”. Remember, though – there are only 45 lines and you fill in as much as you can. You won’t get additional sheets of paper. Practice this at home.

Use Paras
Organize your essay into paragraphs. A good intro about whether you agree or disagree to the statement. Then break down the points (supporting facts) into other paragraphs. Use examples in those paragraphs. Quote the source if you can, rather than writing personal experience. A final conclusion summing up everything; but should not be exactly like the intro. At the first glance, the grader should be able to see those paragraphs – so intent those paragraphs. It’s all about how you present your thoughts on a piece of paper.

Apply Vocab
You have learned so many new words and some of them stay in your head. You must be looking to vent them out. This is the right avenue. Impress the grader by showing off your mastery of those ‘high frequency words’. Be careful – you should be sure they are what you think (I mean the right meanings). Check out a William Faulkner book from your local library, if time permits. Faulkner is known for his excellent usage of diction and cadence.

Few links I thougt might be helpful to you:


Writing a good essay

Credits: NY Times, Collegeboard, sat-essay.net, parenting.learnhub.com, i.ehow.com

Onam


Wish all of you a happy Onam.

While we celebrate onam at church on Sept 13 here is a refresher story. If some of the terms in the story are not familiar to you we'll talk about them in the next class.

A long long time ago, an Asura (demon) king called Mahabali ruled Kerala. He was a wise, benevolent and judicious ruler and beloved of his subjects. Soon his fame as an able king began to spread far and wide, but when he extended his rule to the heavens and the netherworld, the gods felt challenged and began to fear his growing powers. Presuming that he might become over-powerful, Aditi, the mother of Devas pleaded with Lord Vishnu to curtail Mahabali's powers.

Vishnu transformed himself into a dwarf called Vamana and approached Mahabali while he was performing a yajna and asked for alms. Pleased with the dwarf brahmin's wisdom, Mahabali granted him a wish. The Emperor's preceptor, Sukracharya warned him against making the gift, for he realized that the seeker was no ordinary person. But the Emperor's kingly ego was boosted to think that God had asked him for a favor. So he firmly declared that there is no greater sin than going back on one's promise. He kept his word.

The Vamana asked for a simple gift — three paces of land — and the king agreed to it. Vishnu in the guise of Vamana then increased his stature and with the first step covered the sky, blotting out the stars, and with the second, straddled the netherworld. Realising that Vamana's third step will destroy the earth, Mahabali offered his head as the last step.

Vishnu's fatal third step pushed him to the netherworld, but before banishing him to the underworld Vishnu granted him a boon. Since he was attached to his kingdom and his people, he was allowed to return once a year from exile. Onam is the celebration that marks the homecoming of King Mahabali. It is the day when a grateful Kerala pays a glorious tribute to the memory of this king who sacrificed himself for his subjects.



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

10 TM tips


Time Management Tips For High School Students

It's 11:57 p.m.—Do You Know Where Your Homework Is?

Does it seem like there's never enough time in the day to get everything done? Feel like you're always running late? Here are some tips for taking control of your time and organizing your life.

1. Make a "To Do" List Every Day.
Put things that are most important at the top and do them first. If it's easier, use a planner to track all of your tasks. And don't forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments.

2. Use Spare Minutes Wisely.
Get some reading done on the bus ride home from school, for example, and you'll kill two birds with one stone.

3. It's Okay to Say "No."
If you are working part time and your boss asks you to work on a Thursday night and you have a final exam the next morning, realize that it's okay to say 'No'. Keep your short- and long-term priorities in mind.

4. Find the Right Time.
You'll work more efficiently if you figure out when you do your best work. For example, if your brain handles math better in the afternoon, don't wait to do it until late at night.

5. Review Your Notes Every Day.
You'll reinforce what you've learned, so you need less time to study. You'll also be ready if your teacher calls on you or gives a pop quiz.

6. Get a Good Night's Sleep.
Running on empty makes the day seem longer and your tasks seem more difficult.

7. Communicate Your Schedule to Others.
If phone calls are proving to be a distraction, tell your friends that you take social calls from 7-8 p.m. It may sound silly, but it helps.

8. Become a Taskmaster.
Figure out how much free time you have each week. Give yourself a time budget and plan your activities accordingly.

9. Don't Waste Time Agonizing.
Have you ever wasted an entire evening by worrying about something that you're supposed to be doing? Was it worth it? Instead of agonizing and procrastinating, just do it.

10. Keep Things in Perspective.
Setting goals that are unrealistic sets you up for failure. While it's good to set high goals for yourself, be sure not to overdo it. Set goals that are difficult yet reachable.

Consider these tips, but personalize your habits so that they suit you. If you set priorities that fit your lifestyle, you'll have a better chance of achieving your goals.

Credits: College Board

Monday, August 31, 2009

Intro to SAT

Ever since you got into high school, you must have heard a lot about SAT. For those of you who are new to SAT - SAT Reasoning Test is a test required by many college admissions. The whole purpose of this test is to determine whether a student has the fundamental knowledge to attend college or not. In other words, it checks whether a student is ready for college. What it does not test is the intelligence of a student.

The test was originally structured to predict the success rate of a student in college. The ACT is an achievement exam that measures what students have learned. The SAT is more an aptitude test that measures reasoning skills. However, just like any other test, it depends on how well a student is prepared as well as the mindset on that day while taking the test.

For many students, SAT is a nightmare and puts lots of pressure upon them, along with regular coursework. One way to beat this is to start early – say while you are in 9th grade or so.

The test which cost $45 comprises of 3 hours and 45 minutes has 3 parts to it: Math, Critical Reading and Writing. The three sections have 800 point each, making it to a total of 2400. For the subject tests students pay $20 (registration) plus $9 per test. These fees are as of this writing and are subject to change. Check with the test official to get the latest fee structure.

The math section consists of the following areas: algebra and functions; number and operations; geometry; probability; statistics; and data analysis.

The Critical Reading part consists of: critical reading and sentence level reading.

The Writing section checks a student’s grammar, usage and diction.

The test days are normally administered during the months of October, November, December, January, March (or April, alternating), May, and June. The test is typically offered on the first Saturday of the month for the November, December, May, and June administrations.

There are numerous coaching centers that offer test prep. Based on a survey result I read those students who went for some sort of coaching or the other, scored comparatively higher on the test than those who did not. I came across some websites that provide some information as well.

To get an overview of the SAT test, try www.collegeboard.com. It has several tools along with Official SAT practice tests, Official SAT question of the day, Official SAT practice test etc. Check out the SAT Preparation center and you’ll find lots of tips there.

For an online test prep coursework website, try www.number2.com. Its free and you have to register for it online.

One area that you’ll have to work hard is the vocabulary section. You’ll learn several new words, some of which are classified as high frequency words. A good website is www.vocabulary.com. This contains over 5000 words which are likely to appear on the test. Make sure you visit www.quia.com to familiarize yourself with the 100 most common SAT words.

For the math section, try www.mathforum.org which has couple of sections, ‘math tools’ and ‘Ask Dr. Math’.

For test taking sections, try these: www.princetonreview.com and www.tescaliber.com.

For general information about any test at a high level, try www.students.gov. It has answers to most of your questions at a single location.

Most colleges look at your SAT scores along with your GPA. If you are aiming at a highly reputed college, your SAT scores are quite important because most of the applicants would have worked hard to get top scores. Some programs require subject test as well.

Take a look at those colleges that you are planning to apply to, and get a feel for the scores they usually admit students.

While I was preparing for the GRE exam (which is similar to SAT), I used to take one test every week. These tests were taken strictly under time and by filling in the bubbles on a scantron. I would then score my test, and then study the concepts and sections where I scored less. I continued this cycle up until the last 2 weeks. During the last two weeks, I used to take almost one test a day, review my vocabulary and flash cards, and got into the grove. The night before the test, make sure you sleep very well without any studying. The fact is, you cannot study anything in the last minute unlike other school tests.

If any of you need any test taking tips, feel free to ask. I’ll be glad to walk you through.

Those of you, who are taking the test, wish you good luck.

Credits: The Los Angeles Times

The package

Here is a story written by a doctor who served in Africa. Doctors are known to serve those in needy in the most difficult circumstances with less resources.

One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator. (We had no electricity to run an incubator.) We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.

One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. "And it is our last hot water bottle!" she exclaimed.

As in the West it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.

"All right," I said, "put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. "Your job is to keep the baby warm."

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby.

I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "send us a water bottle. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon."

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she continued by adding, "And while You are at it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl, so she'll know that You really love her?"

As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, "Amen?" ! I just did not believe that God could do this.

Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything.

The Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there?

The only way God could answer would be for a package to arrive from the homeland.

I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived near the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the verandah, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting.

Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored.

Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas-that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the thing - could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out -- yes, a brand-new, rubber hot water bottle, I cried.

I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of, the children. She rushed forward, crying out, "If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!"

Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted. Looking up at me, she asked: "Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?"

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months. Packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child-five months before -- in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it "that afternoon."




Sunday, August 30, 2009

Aug 30

We had the following activities at Church today.
  1. Reception for our metropolitan.
  2. Anniversary of Spiritual Orgs.
  3. Sunday school prize distribution.
Since most of you were there at Church today, I am not getting into the details.

Reception:
It started little after 8:00 AM. The location was right behind the church - between the parking lot and church. About 15 Sunday school students wearing black and white showed up.

Anniversary:
The reports for various spiritual orgs were read. There were few speeches as well as songs in between. Trustee presented a flower bouquet to HG.

Prize distribution:
There were two rounds - one for academics and other for talent competition. Students went ahead and collected those prizes and received HG's blessings as well. I took pictures of my students (last year and current year) collecting prizes. Shall mail them once I get a chance to download them. BRS prizes were not given out during the ceremony, but I picked them up from the Headmaster that belonged to my students and few others.

There was no Sunday school today - a happy news for many.

We meet again on Sunday, Sept 6th. I expect to see all of you coming prepared for the next class. Until then, have a nice week.

Two friends

Buddy and Ginger were neighbor dogs who met every day to play together. Like pairs of dogs you can find in most any neighborhood, these two loved each other and played together so often that they had worn a path through the grass of the field between their respective houses.

One evening, Buddy's family noticed that Buddy hadn't returned home. They went looking for him with no success. Buddy didn't show up the next day, and, despite their efforts to find him, by the next week he was still missing.

Curiously, Ginger showed up at Buddy's house alone. She was barking, whining, and generally pestering Buddy's human family. Busy with their own lives, they just ignored the nervous, little neighbor dog.

Finally, one morning Ginger refused to take "no" for an answer. Ted, Buddy's owner, was steadily harassed by the furious, adamant little dog. Ginger followed Ted about, barking insistently, then darting back and forth to a nearby empty lot, as if to say, "Follow me! It's urgent!"

Eventually, Ted followed the frantic Ginger across the empty lot, as Ginger paused to race back and bark encouragingly. The little dog led the man under a fence, past clumps of trees, to a desolate spot a half mile from the house.

There Ted found his beloved Buddy alive -- one of his hind legs crushed in a steel leg hold trap. Horrified, Ted wished he'd taken Ginger's earlier appeals seriously.

Then Ted noticed something quite remarkable-

Ginger had done more than simply lead Buddy's human to his trapped friend. In a circle around the injured dog, Ted found an array of dog food and table scraps, which were identified as the remains of every meal Ginger had been fed that week!

Ginger had been visiting Buddy regularly, in a single minded quest to keep her friend alive by sacrificing her own comfort! Ginger had stayed with Buddy to protect him from predators, snuggling with him at night to keep him warm and nuzzling him to keep his spirits up.

Buddy's leg was treated by a veterinarian and he recovered.

For many years thereafter, the two families watched the faithful friends frolicking and chasing each other down that well-worn path between their houses.