Saturday, January 25, 2014

Luke 7

Luke documents the Roman captain approaching Jesus after he entered Capernaum. In his version, the Roman captain sent his servants to Jesus pleading to heal his prized servant. The other servants pleaded to Jesus and he therefore went with them, as their house was not very far.

When the Roman captain saw Jesus come to his house, he said his house was not worthy to have a great guest like Jesus. He requested Jesus just say the word and his servant would be healed, as he himself was a person of authority.
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 
Jesus then went to the village Nain, and at the village gate, he met a funeral procession. A widow's only son was being taken by a large crowd for burial. Jesus saw them and was heartbroken. He touched the bier and said, "Young man, I tell you to get up."

The dead man got up, and began speaking. Everyone who saw this were filled with awe and praised God. The said, "God has come to help His people." This news spread all over Judea and surrounding country.

When John the Baptist's disciples told him about what they saw and heard about Jesus, he told his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

In response, Jesus told them, "Go tell John all the miracles you saw. Anyone who does not stumble on account of me is blessed."

Then he told the crowd about John the Baptist:
Luke 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
There was some sort of competition as to who was better - those baptized by John the Baptist, or those baptized by Jesus. When Jesus heard this, he said, people were acting childish - John the Baptist was too stern for them; Jesus mingled with everyone and hence was a friend of sinners. They found some sort of excuse to criticize each preacher. In the end, nothing pleased the people.

True wisdom is always justified. God's wisdom is demonstrated in the changing lives of those 'prudent and wise.'

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus over to his house for dinner, a sinful woman came to the house with a bottle of very expensive perfume. She sat down at Jesus' feet, at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. She did not care what anyone thought about her. She then used her hair to dry his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. The Pharisee saw this and said to himself, “I wish Jesus knew what kind of woman this is, who is falling all over him.”

Jesus told the parable of two men whose debts were cancelled and made a point that the woman knew her sinful nature, while the Pharisee thought himself to be clothed in righteousness. Jesus then pronounced her saved by her faith and sent her in peace.

Additional Info
Only Luke records the miraculous and compassionate act of Jesus raising the widow's son. Luke also connects the story how John the Baptist hears about it, through his disciples.

My Thoughts
This is one of those rare occasions when Jesus is surprised by the captain's faith! Can we surprise Jesus?

Notice how Jesus compares John the Baptist to the least in the Kingdom of God.

The common mentality during religious competition is, I am better than you because I belong to this religion; I am part of this group... and so on. What ultimately matters is whether the human soul is able to enter the Kingdom of God or not.

Listening to the story of the woman anointing Jesus' feet makes me realize how spiritually bankrupt I am. The Pharisee was a wonderful comparison that Jesus made. The woman repented and put her faith in Jesus. She was assured by Jesus that she was saved. Faith of the woman got her grace. She became a new person!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Matthew 8:1-13

After delivering the Sermon on the mount, Jesus came down and healed a leper. He asked the leper to go show himself to the priests and let his life, not words bear witness to Jesus' healing.

While Jesus and his disciples were entering a village in Capernaum, a Roman captain came to Jesus and told him that his servant was sick. When Jesus was willing to go, the captain said, "Just order and my servant will be healed." His explanation was that he himself is a captain, and whenever he told his soldiers, 'Go' they went, and when he said, 'Come' they came.
Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
Jesus also said that many who grew up in Jewish religion as 'God's people' will not make it to the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead, it will be opened up to many outsiders from all directions.

Then Jesus told the captain, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” The captain's servant was healed at that moment. This was the other 'long distance' healing Jesus performed.

----------Related Info
“A prominent businessman at a luncheon announcing his decision to give away a significant amount of money to his alma mater caused great division within his family, for his money was coming out of what his children believed to be their rightful inheritance. The man, once one to find great joy in drinking , had had a life-changing and life-saving experience through his faith. One of his children asked him why he was giving so much money. When he replied that it brought him great joy, the child pointedly asked why he didn't go back to drinking.

The peace of a new life in Christ was the lack of peace in one who didn’t understand or accept”.

Credits: Charles Bugg. “Did Jesus Suffer From Stress?"

Matthew 7

The Pharisees had a false sense of Judgement.

We are told not to pick on people, pick on their failures and criticize others, unless we want the same treatment.

Knowing his Heavenly Father, Jesus tells us to ASK - Ask, Seek & Knock.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Knowing the road, Jesus tells us there are no shortcuts to reach God. According to him, the path is narrow, and only a few find it.

Jesus tells us to be wary of those false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip us off some way or other. Jesus tells us not to be impressed with charisma - we should look for character.

Simply uttering the words 'Lord, Lord' will not open the doors of Heaven. Obedience is the key. Only those who do the Father's will are worthy of entering His Kingdom. On that day of Final Judgement, there will be several who will plead, "We did so and so... we preached your word... " Such people do not impress Jesus, and he will ask them, "Out of here."

Jesus, who is far wiser than King Solomon, teaches us:
Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 7:26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 
The congregation that heard this sermon was astonished, because Jesus spoke with Divine authority.

My Thoughts
Jesus tells us that only a few find the way to life.

Speaking about wolves in sheep's clothing - who preachers really are, is the main thing, not what they say or preach. The way to spot a genuine leader is to look for someone will never exploit our emotions or checkbook.

I wonder, how many of us have the day of Final Judgement on our radar? How many of us even think about it, or plan for that day? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Matthew 6

This chapter continues on with the Sermon on the Mount, and emphasizes everyday activities, in relation with God, and other people. God checks our interior motives when we perform each activity - yes, he can see and hear that.

There is a warning about hypocrisy, utilizing the mask of religion to cover it up. In such cases, the true motive is self-glorification.

Three areas where Jesus touches are:
(1) Our giving - he encourages us to give to the needy (not the well fed) without much advertisement. Only Lord is supposed to see that act of giving. Anyone who gives with the intent of showing his fellow human beings, gets no credit in the eyes of God.

(2) Our Prayers - Jesus wants us to pray in secret before we pray in public. God is interested only in sincere prayers. He does not want us to make "vain repetition" of words which is just babbling of words. God expects us to speak to Him in plain language - ie., do simple prayers, and not Hollywood style theatrical presentations. He wants us to seek God's will. We should pray so that Lord's plan is accomplished. Jesus taught us to pray - the Lord's Prayer.

(3) Our Fasting - This is something that has lost it's meaning in the Christian world. How many of us are truly interested in letting go of some food, or for that matter something we cherish? The only fast that Moses documented was the one on annual day of atonement. However, the "religious Pharisees" fasted on Monday and Thursdays so that everyone around them knew they were fasting. True fasting is between God and us.

The way in which we step closer to Lord is by overcoming our hypocrisy and by being honest with Him about our secret life. Lord knows our motives, when we perform each activity.

Next Jesus spoke about storing treasures in Heaven.
Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Then he tells us not to worry about our life, what we will eat/drink or what we will wear. Jesus promises that Lord will provide. All that Lord created is good, and is meant for us to consume - not for the good to consume us. Often times we may get enslaved by those material things, but Lord can liberate us from such control.

Jesus mentioned about King Solomon here that he in all his splendor did not even compare to the beauty of those flowers, which God made. Jesus meant that going after fashion is a vain.

Acting as a consultant or trusted adviser, Jesus points us in the right direction. He tells us to seek Lord's kingdom and His righteousness. All those materialistic things will automatically fill our lives.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

Additional Info
The Greek word hypocrite originally meant an actor who wears a mask.

J. Oswald Sanders once pointed out: "The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are [often] but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache. The millionaire is usually a lonely man and the comedian is often more unhappy than his audience."

In his book, "Facing Loneliness," Sanders goes on to emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about. Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had "only grasped a shadow."

After evaluating his life's goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, "Lord, let me burn out for You!" In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages!" He died at age 31!

My Thoughts
Once I learned about the way Jesus explained in the Bible how to pray, and those prayers that reached God, I was in utter shock. There were numerous songs which I used to sing without knowing the meaning and context - all that was an utter waste, since I did not mean them from my heart. Jesus had explained it in plain words that such prayers were meaningless, and futile. Hopefully now I rectified that situation.

How would it be, if I was talking to my best friend by uttering a bunch of words which I myself did not understand? If I were to talk to my family in that manner, soon they would be flipping those yellow pages to seek psychiatric help.

The Lord's Prayer which Jesus taught us, is in plural - have you ever wondered why?

The most important part of a Christian is that part that only Lord can see. Accolades from people around us, and reputation in social circles mean noting. If Lord is pleased with our actions, then consider ourselves blessed.

Notice how Jesus speaks about Heaven - it is lot safer than a bank safe!

When Lord provides, we will run out of storehouses and be more than satisfied. The satisfaction comes in the form of a package, along with Lord's blessing. Once we know that a gift comes to us with Lord's approval, it is fulfilling to the soul.

Do you think Jesus Christ is telling us the truth, and pointing us in the right direction, when he tells us to seek Lord's Kingdom and righteousness? Could Jesus be lying? Is Jesus a trustworthy adviser? If Jesus is telling us the truth, am I willing to go in the direction where Jesus is pointing me to go? Can I expect Jesus to lift me up, if I fall down while going on that path?

Workers Wanted

A rich executive announced at his church one Sunday morning that he was going to give up all he owned so that he had to depend on his faith in God for everything he needed. He sold everything, gave it to the poor, and moved into a rented home down on the bad side of town. That first night, he prayed that God would furnish him with some food. The next morning, he went outside on the porch and there was no food.

That night, he again prayed for food. The next morning - nothing.

The 3rd night, he prayed again, saying, "Lord, if you do not feed me, I will surely die of starvation." The next morning...nothing. Then, in a near panic brought on by hunger, he fell to his knees and cried out, "Lord, I have put my faith in you on the line. Why are you ignoring me like this?"

In the quietness of that rented house, he heard the Lord tell him that his prayers had been answered, but he was not looking at the answer. The Lord told him to go back out on the porch, which he did. Then, the Lord told him to look up! A large sign on the building across the road, in bold letters, said, "WORKERS WANTED - LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED."

Moral: We not only should have faith that God will provide, but also need to actually listen very closely as to what God is trying to tell us!

Matthew 5

This chapter documents the Sermon on the Mount. This is considered history's most powerful sermon. At the same time, it is one of the most misunderstood messages that Jesus gave. Luke recorded is as Jesus saying it from a level ground. There's some inconsistency here. But it is possible that Jesus gave the same sermon multiple times, to a different audience, which explains the difference.

In this chapter, Jesus is noted as sitting down while giving the sermon.

Essentially, Jesus speaks about how to live one's life. The goal Jesus sets is goodness like God's, which knows no bounds. He turned the ideas about happiness upside down.

With a positive emphasis, Jesus taught what True Righteousness is. The first word he uttered was "Blessed." Jesus taught us how our attitudes should be. He essentially summarized:
- Our attitude towards ourselves,
- Our attitude towards our sins,
- Our attitude towards the Lord,
- Our attitude towards the world,
- How true righteousness comes (verses 17 thru 20),
- How righteousness works in daily life, which includes murder, adultery, divorce, swearing and retaliation.

Finally, Jesus told us to love our enemies.

Those who sat down to listen to the word of Jesus found out that he just 'raised the bar' for those who wanted to be with the father in heaven. Anyone who is angry with someone has committed a murder. Anyone who looked at a girl lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

According to Judaism, it is better for a couple to divorce than to remain together in a state of constant bitterness and strife. Divorce is an accepted fact of life, albeit an unfortunate one. A Jewish man can divorce a woman for any reason or no reason at all, just by uttering it three times. The reason could be as simple as she overcooked his dinner, or just because he found another attractive woman. Jesus raising the bar for such people by classifying it as adultery.

Eye for an eye is a concept that is not well understood in modern circles. Many tend to think it as a barbarian rule. However, we do it today as well. If someone damaged one of our hands, our instinct or impulse is to damage both his hands. Eye for an eye principle calls for 'control' - just break one of his hands - not both. If someone knocked off one tooth, carefully knock off just one tooth of his - not more. If someone took one eye, pay attention and just take his one eye - not both. This called for some controlled anger, which was by no means easy to follow.

Loving the enemy was by far the most difficult philosophy Jesus taught. He gave numerous reasons for it as well:
(a) Love is a mark of maturity, indicating that we are children of God,
(b) Love creates a climate of blessing, which dissolves animosity and wins our enemies,
(c) Returning good for evil is one of the best investments we can make.

Additional Info
Just like today, the first century people were flabbergasted to hear these words from the Messiah.

Latin for blessed is beatus - which resulted in the word 'beatitude.'

Blessing means more than happiness. It means getting a congratulatory approval from the Lord. The blessings come to those who demonstrate appropriate attitudes towards fellow human beings.

An Armenian nurse had been held captive along with her brother by the Turks. Her brother was slain by a Turkish soldier before her eyes. Somehow she escaped and later became a nurse in a military hospital. One day she was stunned to find that the same man who had killed her brother had been captured and brought wounded to the hospital where she worked. Something within her cried out "Vengeance." But a stronger voice called for her to love. She nursed the man back to health. Finally, the recuperating soldier asked her, "Why didn't you let me die?" Her answer was, "I am a follower of Him who said, ’Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you’". Impressed with her answer, the young soldier replied, "I never heard such words before. Tell me more. I want this kind of religion."

(Credits: Jeremias Fababier)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Advantages of Being Poor

A list of ten statements written by Monika Hellwig
  1. The poor know they are in urgent need of redemption.
  2. The poor know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with one another.
  3. The poor rest their security not on things but on people.
  4. The poor have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy.
  5. The poor expect little from competition and much from cooperation.
  6. The poor can distinguish between necessities and luxuries.
  7. The poor can wait, because they have acquired a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence.
  8. The fears of the poor are more realistic and less exaggerated, because they already know that one can survive great suffering and want.
  9. When the poor have the Gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threat or a scolding.
  10. The poor can respond to the call of the Gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.

The next challenge for the reader is to replace the word "poor" with "rich" and use the opposite meaning and see how these statements turn out. For instance,
1. The rich do not think they are in need of redemption
3. The rich rest their security on things, not on people.

Credits: Philip Yancey

Luke 6

We are now with Luke, who documents Jesus being the Lord of Sabbath.

Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field of ripe grain on a Sabbath day, while his disciples were pulling off heads of grain, removing the chaff, and eating them. According to the Pharisees, it was as good as breaking a Sabbath rule.

When the Pharisees approached Jesus with this question, he pointed out David entering the altar and eating consecrated bread while he was hungry. Jesus pointed out that the Son of Man is not a slave, rather in charge of the Sabbath.

Then on another Sabbath day, Jesus and his disciples were teaching at a synagogue. There they met a man whose right hand was shriveled. While Pharisees were watching Jesus, he asked the man to stand up. Next, he asked the pharisees, "Which is lawful on Sabbath - to do good, or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"

Then Jesus asked the man to stretch out his hand and healed him. This made the Pharisees furious and they decided to chalk out their next move.

After around few days of this incident, Jesus went to a mountainside to pray. There he spent a night praying to God. Then he came down and summoned his all his disciples. From them, he hand-picked twelve as apostles. Luke is the only one who documented about Jesus praying the previous night.

Those twelve Jesus picked were:
  • Simon, whom he named Peter,
  • Andrew, his brother,
  • James,
  • John,
  • Philip,
  • Bartholomew,
  • Matthew,
  • Thomas,
  • James, son of Alphaeus,
  • Simon, called the Zealot,
  • Judas, son of James,
  • Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Walking down the mountain with his new team of Apostles, he was surrounded by a large number of disciples, who came all over Jerusalem, Judea, Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear him and to be healed.

Looking at them, he gave the "Sermon on the Plains." This ties in with the beatitudes listed by Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. Luke documents Jesus caring for our physical needs as well as spiritual needs.

According to Jesus, those who are hungry, poor, sorrowful, hated, excluded, insulted, and rejected now are blessed. They are blessed because of their relationship with Jesus. Ironically, those who are rich, well fed, haughty, and universally praised are under the curse of God.

Then Jesus teaches something radical - to love our enemies, and let them bring out the best within ourselves. He tells us to think and behave like God's children, by being kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Jesus abhors judging and condemning others. Instead, he encourages us to forgive others. He does not want us to have that 'I know better than you' mentality.

Next, he encourages us to use the Word of God carefully. If we use the word of God just for those Bible studies, but do not weave them into our life, we will be like that carpenter who build a house by skipping the foundation. When flood comes in, such houses are the first to collapse.

Additional Info

Disciple vs Apostle
In Christianity, disciples are those who followers of Jesus during the time of his ministry. An Apostle in Christianity means an ambassador of the Gospel, or basically a teacher.

- Disciple means learner, or student.
- While Jesus Christ had disciples, so did John The Baptist and the Pharisees.
- A disciple graduates to become an apostles. All apostles were disciples, but not all disciples became apostles.

- Apostle means messenger, or ambassador.
- The Twelve Apostles, with Matthias replacing the traitor Judas Iscariot, were given the symbolic "Keys to The Kingdom," whereby they will serve as the foundation of the Christian church.
- All apostles, with one possible exception (John), were martyred.

Leonardo Da Vinci, just before he commenced work on his "Last Supper" had a violent argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so bitter that he determined to paint the face of his enemy, the other artist, into the face of Judas, and thus take his revenge by handing the man down in infamy and scorn to succeeding generations. The face of Judas was, therefore, one of the first he finished. And everyone could easily recognize it as the face of the painter with whom he had quarreled.

But when he came to paint the face of Christ, he could make no progress. Something seemed to be baffling him, holding him back, frustrating his best efforts. Finally he came to the conclusion that the thing that was frustrating him was that he had painted the face of his enemy onto the face of Judas. He painted out the face of Judas and was then able to resume his work on the face of Jesus and this time did it with the success that the ages have acclaimed.

When DaVinci moved past his right to take revenge and made the right response instead, he broke the power of hatred and allowed the love of Christ to have the last word.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mark 3

When Jesus went to the synagogue on a Sabbath, he met a man with shriveled hand. Jesus asked that man to stand up in the full view of everyone. The Jews were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus.
Mark 3:4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
Jesus was angry at them, and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts. He healed the man in front of everyone, and his hand was completely restored. The apparent defiance of Jesus triggered a terrible reaction within those Pharisees. They went out and met Herod's followers to finalize a death-plot against Jesus.

The crowd followed Jesus and he healed many. However, Jesus gave strict orders not to publicize these.

Jesus chose an inner circle of twelve, who became the founding members of his new kingdom - similar to 12 tribes of Israel, or 12 sons of Jacob.

Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),
James, son of Zebedee,
John, brother of James (Jesus nicknamed the Zebedee brothers Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”),
Matthew, the tax collector who served Romans,
Thomas, the doubter,
James, son of Alphaeus,
Simon the Canaanite, who belonged to the guerrilla group,
Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him), who was a non-Galilean, and was from Judea.

When Jesus and his followers entered a house, a large crowd accompanied them and they were unable to eat. His friends tried to rescue him out by exerting force. Religious scholars arrived at the conclusion that Jesus was in league with the devil, possessed by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, and using devilish tricks to impress people.

This was one of the worst blasphemy that could be accused upon the Son of God. Together, let's read how Jesus handled this situation:
Mark 3:23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?
24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.
27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.
28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter,
29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
Just then, the mother and brothers of Jesus arrived outside. They must have heard what was going on inside. They sent someone to fetch Jesus. The messenger came to Jesus and said, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

Jesus looked around and responded, "Guess who is my mother, and who are my brothers and sisters - those who obey's God's will are my brothers, sisters and mother." Jesus implied that obedience is thicker than blood.

Additional Info

Herod's people were the political rivals of Pharisees. Yet, when it came to killing Jesus, the two camps united.

Cyril Barber, transfers this principle into all of life; "Middle management involves being able to translate the ideals of one’s superiors into practice and, at the same time, knowing how to motivate one’s subordinates. It necessitates keeping corporate goals in mind, while encouraging individuals to strive for personal achievement."

(Cyril J. Barber, Nehemiah and the Dynamics of Effective Leadership, page 26)

My Thoughts
When we are dealing with the public, and the public sentiment is against us, it is our dearest and loved ones who will come call us, to save us out of that situation. Mary did the same when she heard Jesus was having a dialogue with the Pharisees. 

MLK Jr. Day

Leo Tolstoy followed the beatitude, "Blessed are the peacemakers.... for they will be called children of God - Matthew 5:9. However, his temper kept getting in the way of peacemaking. Tolstoy wrote the book, 'The Kingdom of God is Within You,' which laid out a new organization for society based on a literal Christian interpretation. Tolstoy took the title of the book from Luke 17:21.

Few years later, Gandhi read this book and it opened up the mind of Leo Tolstoy to him, who at that time was still a young protester living in South Africa.

Gandhi wrote in his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Part II, Chapter 15) that this book "overwhelmed" him and "left an abiding impression."

In 1908 Tolstoy wrote to Gandhi, 'A Letter to a Hindu', which outlined the notion that only by using love as a weapon through passive resistance could the native Indian people overthrow the colonial British Empire. This idea sparked the organization of non-violent strikes nationwide, led by Gandhi. In 1909, Gandhi wrote to Tolstoy seeking advice and permission to republish 'A Letter to a Hindu' in his native language, Gujarati.

Several years later, an American minister, Martin Luther King Jr., studied Gandhi's tactics and decided to put them into practice in the United States of America. At first, this idea was not welcome even within his own circles, where they wanted to drift towards the "black power" rhetoric. While riots broke out in LA, Chicago, Harlem, etc., MLK traveled from city to city cooling off the tempers by reminding demonstrators about the principle of non-violence from the 'Sermon on the Mount' and lessons from Gandhi.

MLK stood true to peacemaking and did not strike back. He echoed, "Christianity, has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all it's difficulties and agonizing and tension-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its mark upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only through suffering."

Happy MLK Jr. Day!

Additional Info:
Bio of MLK
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
Born: January 15, 1929, Atlanta, GA
Assassinated: April 4, 1968, Memphis, TN
Spouse: Coretta Scott King (m. 1953–1968)
Awards: Nobel Peace Prize, Time's Person of the Year, etc..
Children: Dexter Scott King, Yolanda King, Bernice King, Martin Luther King III
Education: Boston University (1954–1955)

Matthew 12:1-21

In this section, we read that Jesus proclaimed that he was the Lord of Sabbath.

While walking with his team of disciples through a field of ripe grain on a Sabbath day, the disciples were pulling the head of the grain and munching on them. According to the Pharisees, the disciples of Jesus were breaking the Sabbatical law.

Upon hearing this, Jesus pointed out that while David was hungry, he ate the consecrated bread from the temple which was reserved for the priest. Jesus pointed out that Lord preferred a flexible heart than an inflexible ritual.

While Jesus was at a Synagogue, he met a man with shrunken and wrinkled hand. With an intention of bringing charges against Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
Matthew 12:11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?
12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he healed the man's hand. With these two controversial Sabbath incidents, Pharisees went out and plotted how to kill Jesus. Jesus was aware of this and he withdrew from there. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill, asking them not to publicize his identity. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah's 'Suffering Servant prophecy' documented in Isaiah 42:1-4. It essentially speaks that Jesus will fulfill his mission not through violence or coercion, but through gentle, faithful obedience.

My Thoughts
Jesus almost always responded in a Socrates style - if someone asked him a question, he would ask a counter question.

Additional Info
The story is told of two brothers. One of them would carry a letter to the grave that could have set the record straight, but I will tell you about that later. There was a man whose name was Edwin Thomas, a master of the stage (PP-3). During the latter half of the 1800’s, this small man with a huge voice had few rivals. Debuting in Richard III at the age of fifteen, he found unrivaled success with his abilities to act out the great dramas of Shakespeare. In New York City, for one hundred consecutive nights he performed Hamlet and even in London where the tough British critics lived he one favor in their hearts with his acting skills.

When it came to difficulties in life, Edwin Thomas was quite acquainted with those also. Edwin Thomas was not alone for he had two brothers, John and Junius. They too, were actors, although they were not nearly as gifted as was Edwin. In 1863, the three brothers performed together in Julius Caesar. The fact that Edwin’s brother took the role of Brutus was almost an eerie foreboding of what was to occur in just in the brother’s lives in just two years. One little decision would not only affect the brothers but an entire nation.

This same John who played the assassin in Julius Caesar is the same John who would play the role of assassin in Ford’s Theatre. On a dark April night in 1865 with the Civil War pulling at the heart and soldiers of a divided nation, John walked into the theater and fired a bullet at the head of Abraham Lincoln. . . . See, the last name of the brothers was Booth—-Edwin Thomas Booth and John Wilkes Booth.

That night would mark Edwin forever. He would never be the same again. The shame from his brother’s crime drove him into retirement. He might have never returned to the stage had it not been for a twist of fate at a New Jersey train station. Edwin was awaiting his coach when a well-dressed young man, pressed by the crowd, lost his footing and fell between the platform and the moving train. Without hesitation, Edwin locked a leg around the railing, grabbed the man, and pulled him to safety. After the sighs of relief, the young man recognized the famous Edwin Booth.

Edwin, however, did not recognize the young man whom he had rescued. That knowledge would come to him a few weeks later in a letter, a letter that he would carry in his pocket to his grave. A letter from General Adams Budeau, chief secretary to General Ulysess S. Grant. A letter thanking Edwin Booth for saving the life of the child of an American hero, Abraham Lincoln. How ironic that while one brother killed the president, the other brother saved the president’s son. The boy that was yanked to safety was none other than Robert Todd Lincoln.

In short, the brother of John Wilkes Booth, Edwin Booth, Saved Abraham Lincoln’s Son - Robert Todd Lincoln.

Image Credits: Wikimedia

John 5

Jesus healed a sick man at the Pool of Bethesda. A great number of disabled people - blind, lame, paralyzed etc., used to lie there with hopes to be healed. This particular man was invalid for thirty eight years. Jesus ignored the local tradition and healed the man instantly. He took up his mat and started walking. However, Jews condemn him for breaking Sabbath by carrying his own mat.

Jesus later met this man in the Temple and told him he should not sin anymore. Jesus healing the man on a Sabbath and asking him to walk away with his mat got him in trouble. Jesus claimed that God was his father and he worked on Sabbath, and therefore he too worked on Sabbath. Jews considered these claims of Jesus to be blasphemy. They then think about killing Jesus.

Jesus testified about himself that God the Father had sent him. He rebuked them saying that they were studying the scriptures but pay no attention to the real Son of God. Further, they had no love for God in their hearts. They neither believed what Moses wrote and therefore will not believe what Jesus was speaking.

My Thoughts
Jewish leaders took God's gift, Sabbath and transformed it into a bunch of regulations. They did not persecute the man who broke Sabbath law. However they made plans to kill Jesus.


Two hunters were out hunting and come upon what appeared at first as an abandoned farm. The barn was sagging, the house was in disrepair, and there were junk cars and car parts lying around. The only thing that made it a working farm were a few chickens pecking away and a goat wandering around.

As they entered the yard they came across an old well.
One asked the other "Wonder how deep it is."

The other said, "We'll have to drop something down and listen for the splash."

They look around for something to drop down the well, but the only thing close by was an old transmission. They both hauled it over to the well and dropped it in. They counted and waited a long time for the splash. It was deep, deep one all right.

They turned to leave and saw the goat was charging at them, head down, horns headed straight for them. At the last moment they jumped aside, and the goat went right past them and straight over the side and down the well. They looked at each other in amazement.

As they started to leave, the owner of the farm came up.
They chatted for a moment and got permission to hunt on his land. The farmer asked, "Have you seen my goat?"

They said, "Your goat almost killed us charging at us.
You should have had that goat tied up."

The farmer, "I thought I had him tied up to an old transmission."

Moral: You follow what you're tied to

Image Credit: Teamorthodoxy

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Your Gospel

“You are writing a Gospel, 
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do, 
By words that you say.

Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel
According to you?”

― Paul Gilbert