Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feb 7

The importance of tomorrow is that we remember all departed souls.  I should say, at this juncture, we should remember the entire departed souls in our family tree - i.e., starting from Adam and Eve to those whom we have heard of and have spent time with.

It is our church custom to write down the names of those departed souls at the beginning of the service so that the priest performing the service can pray for them. It is almost impossible to remember every name.  The truth is that few hundred years from now, even our names will be forgotten by our future generation during this particular Sunday.  Even though you cannot recall the names of all of them, during service tomorrow, in your mind, pray for your entire family tree.  Your prayers will certainly be heard up above.

During our discussion of death, we talked about various near death experiences where our near and dear ones coming and welcoming us into the next world.  In fact, we are praying for all those who have gone before us, into the next world.

In class tomorrow, we will be discussing the following topics:

BRS
Project CARS
New lesson plan

CARS - Characters

We have kicked off our Project CARS.

The next deliverable due for the project is below:

Sunday, Feb 7th - Pick a biblical character you want to represent.

Most of you have picked a character.  The list includes:

Rony - Isaiah
Amal - St. Stephen
James - James
Joseph - Beltazar
Sherine - Mary Magdeline
Merlyn - Esther
Alina - Ruth
Sherlyne - St. Paul
Anabella - Undecided
Alex - Undecided

Today morning I went to the library looking for some books for you to refer, and could lay my hands on couple of the characters.  You may borrow these books from me to complete the project.  I will keep looking if other libraries have pertinent books on our characters.  Meanwhile, check your local library if you can get some reading material.  If not, internet is a great resource for you at your fingertips.

Superbowl XLIV





Superbowl XLIV (44) will be played tomorrow at 6:25 PM at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  The game is between New Orleans Saints  vs. Indianapolis Colts.  This is the first time the New Orleans Saints making it to the finals and the Indianapolis Colts are tomorrow's favorites. However, It is a little know fact that the COLTS stands for Count On Losing The Superbowl.     

As of this writing, the actual game tickets are being sold between $1,224 and $7,460. Hence, most of the folks opt to watch Superbowl on TV.  Since Superbowl is one of the most watched TV program in the US, the cost of TV commercials are pretty high as well.  For a 30 second TV commercial, tomorrow during the game, the price tag is around $2.8 Million. 

For those of you who quite don't understand those football terms, here is the translation with regard to church attendance.    

Backfield-in-Motion – Making a trip to the back (restroom or fellowship hall) during the service.

Benchwarmer – Those who do not sing, pray, teach Sunday school, or apparently do anything but sit and talk.

Blitz – The rush for the restaurants following the Service, when there is no food.

Draw Play – What many children do with their dollar bills during worship.

End Run – Getting out of church quickly, without speaking to any guest or fellow member.

Flex Defense – The ability to allow absolutely nothing that was said during the sermon, to improve your spiritual life.

Half-back Option – The decision of 50% of the congregation not to return for the evening program on certain Sundays.  

Halftime – The period between Sunday School and worship when many choose to leave.

Instant Replay – The priest giving absolution to a second set of people who missed their first chance at 8:55 AM.    

Quarterback Sneak – Church members quietly leaving during the Church while the Service is still in progress.  

Sack – Where many sleepy-eyed parishioners wish they were still sleeping.  

Staying in the Pocket – What happens to a lot of money that should be given to the Lord’s work.

Sudden Death – What happens to the attention span of the congregation if the preacher goes “overtime”.

Trap – You’re called on to your birthday prayer and are still asleep.

Two-Deep – Defense given by some who don’t like to think about the doctrinal points of the sermon.

Two-minute Warning – The point at which you realize the sermon is almost over and begin to gather up your children and belongings.

The sparrow at starbucks



Here is a true story about a coincidence, written by John Oaks.  A proof that God arranges certain encounters in our lives; encounters that leave us baffled and let us appreciate the true power of God.
------
It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.

For a musician, it's the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing.

It was a fun, low-pressure gig—I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the '40s to the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" she asked.

"No," I replied. "We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?"

To my delight, she accepted my invitation.

"You choose," I said. "What are you in the mood to sing?"

"Well…. do you know any hymns?"

Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. "Name one."

"Oh, I don't know. There are so many good ones. You pick one."

"Okay," I replied. "How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'?"

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, "Yeah. Let's do that one."

She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.

 Why should I be discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

I sing because I'm happy;
I sing because I'm free.
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.

 Holy moment
When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, "Oh, y'all go back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get something' to drink, just like you!"
But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. "You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!"

"Well, it's funny that you picked that particular hymn," she said.

"Why is that?"

"Well…." she hesitated again, "that was my daughter's favorite song."

"Really!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual. "She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week."

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence.

"Are you going to be okay?"

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything's gonna be just fine."

She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it's no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything's gonna be okay.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Avatar - review


I just got back after watching 'Avatar' in Imax 3D at the Mall of Georgia.  It's the story of an ex-Marine who goes to the alien planet 'Pandora' along with other earthlings in search of a rare mineral, which has exotic life forms with 10 feet blue skinned people.  As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people.  The movie was directed by James Cameron - the director of Titanic.

Filmed in Hawaii, it seems the movie was in making for nearly 10 years, and according to the New York Times, it cost about $500 Million.  The film broke several box office records during its release and became the highest-grossing film of all time domestically and worldwide, surpassing Titanic, which had held the records for the previous 12 years. It also became the first film to gross more than $2 billion internationally. Following the film's success, Cameron stated that there will be a sequel. Avatar has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

To help the actors prepare for their roles, director James Cameron took the cast and crew to Hawaii, where they spent their days trekking through the forests and jungles and living like tribes (building campfires, eating fish, etc), in order to get a better sense of what it would be like to live and move around in the jungle on Pandora, since there would not be any actual jungle sets to aid and guide the actors and crew. Heroine Zoe Saldana even dressed up as a warrior during these journeys, complete with an alien tail symbolic of the one her character has in the movie.

"Avatar" is Sanskrit for "incarnation". It is used extensively in Hindu scriptures to refer to human incarnations of God.  According to Hindu belief, there are 10 Avatars of God, called 'Dasha-avatar'. According to James Cameron, the people are blue to create a conceptual parallel with traditional Hindu depictions of God (e.g., in the forms of Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, Krishna, etc.).

Prior to going for the movie, I checked various comments about this movie and found only positive remarks.  It's acclaimed as a 'must see' movie.  I strongly encourage you to go watch it when time permits.  If you decide to go, I recommend you watching it in Imax 3D.  While at the theater, many folks were watching it the second time and I met a girl there, who saw it the 6th time today.

Go see it, guys.  I'll be seeing it again!!

Credits: Various websites including CNN.  

The brick



A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in her new Jaguar. She was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when she thought she saw something.

As her car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door!

She slammed on the brakes, she jumped out of the car and ran back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. Grabbing some kid she pushed him up against a parked car asking, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?!!"

Building up a head of steam she went on. "That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"

"Please, madam, please. I'm sorry, I didn't know what else to do," pleaded the youngster. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." tears were dripping down the boys chin as he pointed around the parked car.

"It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."

Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly welling lump in her throat. She lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out her scarf and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be okay.

"Thank you," the grateful child said to her.

The woman then watched the little boy push his brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long walk back to her Jaguar... a long, slow walk. She never did repair the side door. She kept the dent to remind her not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

God whispers in your soul and speaks to your heart. Sometimes when you don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at you.

It's your choice:
Listen to the whisper - or wait for the brick.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The way govt works


Three contractors were bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House in D.C.; one from Illinois, one from Tennessee and a third from Kentucky. They all went with a White House official to examine the fence.

The Tennessee contractor took out a tape measure and did some measuring, then worked some figures with a pencil. ‘Well’, he said, ‘I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me.’

The Kentucky contractor also did some measuring and figuring, then said, ‘I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me.’

The Illinois contractor didn’t measure or figure, but leaned over to the White House official and whispered, ‘$2,700.’

The official, incredulous, whispered back, ‘You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?’

The Illinois contractor replied, ‘$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire that guy from Kentucky to fix the fence.’

‘Done,’ replied the government official.

And that, my friends, is how our government works!

Toyota recalls

Is your car involved in the recent Toyota recall?  Toyota has issued recalls on more than 8 million cars worldwide, including some vehicles subject to multiple recalls. Identify if your car is in the recall list.

The following models are affected by the recall and sales suspension over potentially sticking gas pedals:
• Certain 2009-2010 RAV4s
• Certain 2009-2010 Corollas
• 2009-2010 Matrix
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• Certain 2007-2010 Camrys
• 2010 Highlander (except hybrids)
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Sequoia
 If your model is involved in the sticking gas pedal, it will probably take some time to get it fixed.

The following models have been recalled over issues related to floor mat pedal entrapment:
Toyota
• 2007-2010 Camry
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• 2004-2009 Prius
• 2005-2010 Tacoma
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Highlander
• 2009-2010 Corolla
• 2009-2010 Venza
• 2009-2010 Matrix

Lexus
• 2006-2010 IS 250
• 2006-2010 IS 350
• 2007-2010 ES 350
If you have a vehicle with a floor-mat problem, call your dealer. They can reshape the pedal and, if you like, replace it with a new pedal when parts become available.

If you own a Toyota, it's a good idea to watch out the latest news about your car.  You may have skipped either of these problems for now (like me), but seems like this is not the end of it; more stories are resurfacing.

Click here for the latest from Toyota newsroom.  

Devil's garage sale





One day, the devil was having a garage sale.  It was advertised that the devil was going to put his tools up for sale. On the date of the sale, the tools were placed for public inspection; each tool being marked with its sale price.

They were a treacherous lot of implements ...

Hatred,
Envy,
Jealousy,
Deceit,
Lying,
Pride,
And so on....

Laid apart from the rest was a harmless looking tool, it was well worn and priced very high.  "What is the name of this tool?" asked one of the shoppers, pointing to it.

"That is Discouragement", replied the devil.

"Why have you priced it so high?"

"Because it is more useful to me than the others. I can pry open and get inside a man's heart with that, when I cannot get near him with my other tools. Once I get inside, I can make him do what I choose. It is badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since very few people know that it belongs to me."

We are always out looking for a bargain, shopping all the sales that come along. Enticed into buying little needed or not needed items, because of the lower price. One point we should always remember.

Just because we can buy it, Does not mean we should buy it.

In Isaiah 40: 29 - 31, the Lord tells us not to be Discouraged:

He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Jesus loves me

Last Sunday, at the Bala Balika Samajam, we heard one of the most popular Christian songs sung again.  In fact, it’s probably one of the first songs kids learn at Sunday School.

Back in the mid 19th century, two unmarried sisters, Anna and Susan Warner, lived across the Hudson River from West Point. After the death of their father, who had been a New York attorney impoverished by the depression of 1837, they supported themselves by writing. Susan wrote novels which became best-sellers. Anna wrote poems and hymns and, in fact, wrote a new hymn each month for a Sunday School class she taught made up of West Point cadets.

One day in 1860, Susan was writing a story about an ill child and wanted to include a song that could be sung to the dying youth. She turned for help to her songwriter sister. That’s when Anna penned these memorable words:

Jesus loves me! This I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong.

That is the song that has become the best-known Christian song in the world. Anna later published it separately in a hymnbook. And the tune we use today was composed in 1862 by William Bradbury. He is the one who, in fact, added the refrain:

Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Canoe race

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the “Rowing Team Quality First Program”, with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year’s racing team was outsourced to India.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Taking rest

I have pulled a muscle on my back and am currently taking rest.  Went to the urgent care yesterday and they told me to take rest for about a week and gave me lots of medication.

Today all day I was taking rest and was under the influence of those medication.

So, if you do not see postings regularly, I am taking rest.

Not during surgery

During my visit to the urgent care yesterday, I was telling myself how much I avoid hositals and surgeries.  Here are few things you do not want to hear during surgery.

1. Better save that. We’ll need it for the autopsy.

2. Someone call the janitor. We’re going to need a mop.

3. Accept this sacrifice, O Great Lord of Darkness.

4. Rusty! Rusty! Come back with that! Bad dog!

5. Wait a minute, if this is his spleen, then what’s that?

6. Oops! Hey, has anyone ever survived 500ml of this stuff before?

7. Sterile, schmerile. The floor’s clean, right?

8. OK, now take a picture from this angle. This is truly a freak of nature.

9. And now we remove the subject’s brain and place it in the body of the ape.

10. Could you stop that thing from beating? It’s throwing my concentration off.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Rose

During our discussions about love and marriage, we learned that true beauty lies not in the external looks, but in the beauty of the heart.  External looks fade off after some time, but it's the beauty of the heart that glows stronger by time and shines magnificantly day by day. You shlould look for this inner beauty and value this more than the external looks.

Have you heard the story of John Blanchard, which is believed to be a true story.  John Blanchard was a leuitenent.  Read on....
---

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City.

He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. In short, she did not appear to be look attractive at all.

The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.

"I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?"

The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile.

"I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.

-----
The French novelist Arsène Houssaye once wrote:
"Tell me whom you love, and I will tell you who you are..."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jan 31

We had a short class today.  We continued our discussion about death and here is the assignment I have for you.  Write one paragraph on the topic below which is due next Sunday:

“Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ what would you say?”

Noticed that most of you left home when you were supposed to go attend Bala Balika Samajam.  If this is the case, then next time I will have to enforce mandatory attendance.

Those of you who have not turned in your BRS, do so in the next class.

Have a wonderful week.