Saturday, February 1, 2014

Children's Bill of Rights

Children's Bill of Rights

1. Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say “No” at least three times a day.

2. Children have the right to find out early in their lives that their parents don’t exist to make them happy, but to offer them the opportunity to learn the skills they will need to eventually make themselves happy.

3. Children have a right to scream all they want over the decisions their parents make, albeit their parents have the right to confine said screaming to certain areas of their homes.

4. Children have the right to find out early that their parents care deeply for them but don’t give a hoot what their children think about them at any given moment in time.

5. Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say “Because I said so” on a regular and frequent basis.

6. Because it is the most character-building activity a child can engage in, children have the right to share significantly in the doing of household chores.

7. Every child has the right to discover early in life that he isn't the center of the universe (or his family or his parents’ lives), that he isn't a big fish in a small pond, and that he isn't the Second Coming, so as to prevent him from becoming an insufferable brat.

8. Children have the right to learn to be grateful for what they receive, therefore, they have the right to receive all of what they truly need and very little of what they simply want.

9. Children have the right to learn early in their lives that obedience to legitimate authority is not optional, that there are consequences for disobedience, and that said consequences are memorable and, therefore, persuasive.

10. Every child has the right to parents who love him/her enough to make sure he/she enjoys all of the above rights.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Matthew 8:18-34

When people wanted to be the disciples of Jesus, they wondered if they could follow him.

To one he said the Son of Man has no particular place and he keeps moving on.
Matthew 8:21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Here Jesus was not being disrespectful to the man's father. His father was not yet dead, but must be in his old age. Jesus told him to have right priorities in his life.

Matthew records the storm on the sea of Galilee. He calmed the sea and rebuked the disciples saying they had very little faith (in him).

We then read that two demon possessed men coming towards Jesus from the cemetery. Jesus drove those evil spirits from those men. The entire town became nervous when they saw this episode and wanted Jesus to leave their town.
Matthew 8:34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

Other Info
Writings say that over 2,000 pigs were destroyed in the process of saving those two men.

My Thoughts
Many people have strong faith in the Lord. Being a weak human, that is one area where I stumble at times. I think in order for me to be a better person, I should hold on to that faith strongly. I have learned through experience that one way to advance towards the Lord is to have immense faith in Him.

Luke 8

Jesus is going from one town to another, proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven. He has a small team of women along with him, apart from the twelve disciples. These women were cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.

The team went from town to town, narrating the parables to those large crowd who came to listen Jesus. At the conclusion of the parable of the sower, Jesus said,
Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
When Jesus narrated these secrets, his mother and brothers came to get him out of the place.
Luke 8:21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.
We then read about Jesus calming the storm when he was along with his disciples. Jesus rebuked them asking, "Where is your faith?" The disciples were astonished to see even the winds and water listening to Jesus.

Once crossing the sea of Galilee, Jesus restored a demon possessed man, who was in a bad shape - for a long time he lived in a cemetery and wore no clothes. A brief explanation of the Jesus performing exorcism is narrated. Those who witnessed it were amazed. The man later wore clothes and sat at Jesus' feet, feeling normal.

Jesus was asked by all the people of the region to leave after witnessing the terrifying exoticism. The man begged Jesus to let him accompany Jesus when he was leaving. Jesus sent him away saying,
Luke 8:39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.
Upon returning, Jesus met with Jarius - a synagogue leader whose 12 year old daughter was dying.

While walking through the crowd, a woman who was bleeding for 12 years touched the cloak of Jesus and was immediately healed. While Jesus was having a conversation with this woman, news arrived from Jarius' house that his daughter had died.

Jesus went to Jarius' house and took Peter, John, James and the child's parents into the room. There in the midst of them, he raised the dead child and ordered them not to tell anyone what happened in that room.

Other Info
Rembrandt's 'Sea of Galilee' was stolen from Boston Gardner Museum, back in 1990. It is considered the biggest art theft in the United States - worth $500 million. Currently there is a $5 million reward for those providing leads. Tap here to see the FBI posting. Below is a brief video.

My Thoughts
The women who followed Jesus were using their own considerable means to provide for the company. Luke is the only one who indicates that women had a role in Jesus' ministry.

Wind, water and fire - these are three powerful natural agents. There are days when the flight journey turns out to be bumpy rides. During those days, I recall this very episode of Jesus with the disciples on the boat, and he calming the storms - it provides lots of comfort.

I was thinking why the man did not follow Jesus after having relieved from those evil spirits - sure enough, Luke documents that he begged to follow Jesus, while he was returning. Jesus wanted him to go back and be a witness about the miracle God has performed. Often times, this is what the Lord wants us to do - be witness to others about the miracles we have experienced in our lives. To a certain degree, I try sharing it with others that Lord continues to do miraculous things in my life and I am at His mercy.

The woman's bleeding made her ceremonially unclean and her life was difficult. I admire the risk she took plus the immense faith she had - she just touched the tassel and was healed.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Matthew 13

It is almost certain that Jesus is going to be punished by the Pharisees because of his fearless talk. The disciples wonder what will happen to the Kingdom that Jesus has been preaching about. The answer is given by Jesus in a series of parables. 

On this particular day, Jesus fave a series of seven inter-related parables, and finally added one more. 

1. The Sower and the Soils (13:1-9)
2. The Tares (13:24-30)
3. The Mustard Seed (13:31-32)
4. The Leaven (13:33)
5. The Hidden Treasure (13:44)
6. The Costly Pearl (13:45-46)
7. The Dragnet (13:47-50)
8. The Householder (13:52)

All these start with the words “The kingdom of heaven is like... 

Without going into the details of these parable, Here is how the meanings are classified:

The Sower and the Soils (1-9) ---- Planting ----  Planting truth
The Tares (13:24-30) ---- Planting ----  Planting of counterfeit by Satan

The Mustard Seed (13:31-32) ---- Growth ---- Extent of Growth - rapid
The Leaven (13:33) ---- Growth ---- Cause of Growth - internal dynamic

The Hidden Treasure (13:44) ---- Value ---- Not searching
The Costly Pearl (13:45-46) ---- Value ---- Searching

The Dragnet (13:47-50) ---- Responsibility ---- Evangelism
The Householder (13:52) ---- Responsibility ---- Edification

Additional Info
A parable is a story or comparison cast alongside a lesson to make the lesson clear. Jesus taught in parables due to 
(a) sluggishness of people
(b) those earlier prophecies
One reason for telling the parables was to excite and arouse the interest within people. The other was to hide the truth from those whose hard hearts did not want to hear the truth and did not accept Jesus as their Messiah.

My Thoughts
This is the chapter that we should be acquainted with, to familiarize ourselves with the Kingdom of Heaven.


It depends whose hands it's in

A basketball in my hands is worth about $19
A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is
worth about $33 million
It depends whose hands it’s in

A baseball in my hands is worth about $6
A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million
It depends whose hands it’s in

A tennis racket is useless in my hands
A tennis racket in Pete Sampras’ hands
is a Wimbledon Championship
It depends whose hands it’s in

A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal
A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea
It depends whose hands it’s in

A sling shot in my hands is a kid’s toy
A sling shot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends whose hands it’s in

Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands
is a couple of fish sandwiches.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God’s
hands will feed thousands It depends whose hands it’s in

Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse
Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce
salvation for the entire world.
It depends whose hands it’s in

As you see now it depends whose hands it’s in.
So put your concerns, your worries, your fears,
your hopes, your dreams, your families and
your relationships in God’s hands because
It depends whose hands it’s in.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Luke 11

Jesus gave his disciples hope and shared with them how to pray. He taught them three things - ASK.
A - Ask
S - Seek
K - Knock. 
Luke 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
He also taught them the Lord's prayer. Persistence is the key. We got to be direct with God - no need to bargain, just ask Him directly. Lord expects us to ask Him for the Holy Spirit.
Luke 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
Jesus amazed the crowd when he drove out a demon from a man who was mute. The Pharisees accused Jesus for getting these powers from Satan. Jesus refuted this argument saying that Satan would not divide his own kingdom, and it was God, not Satan who was driving out demons.

There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus and Satan.
Luke 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
When Jesus was expelling spirits, he said those spirits will wander and attempt to return to the same body with seven other spirits once it finds the person clean. As a result, if the person is not careful, he would end up in a far worse situation.

Only Luke records the conversation of a lady, who spoke after hearing these teachings of Jesus.
Luke 11:27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
 He then called the generation wicked and showed them three examples of spiritual opportunities:

(a) When asked for a sign, he offered them the sign of Jonah.
(b) A gentile Queen of Sheba traveled so far to meet the wise King Solomon, and right in front of them was the very Son of God - greater than Solomon. However, people would not bear witness.
(c) The light that shines in the darkness should enter our inner body so that the inner body is not dark.

When invited for a dinner at a Pharisee's house, Jesus went and sat down without washing. When questioned, he said it was not adequate to wash just the exterior, but the interior also. He told them to live generously by giving to the poor. In short, he called them 'frauds.'

Notice how Jesus bashes the Pharisees, from verses 37 onward - no wonder they wanted him killed.

Additional Info
Beelzebub - lord of flies, was one of names of the Philistine gods Baal.

What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no on is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.

Credits: John Maxwell 

My Thoughts
ASK is a wonderful acronym - I should share this with others. Notice how confidently is Jesus sharing the merits of His Father.

If it is our best friend who is coming, then we will open the door even before our friend knocks the door - as we are waiting expectantly for the arrival.

I can certainly relate to the woman from the crowd. She just expressed her thoughts loudly! When we see fabulous children who are wonderful, we tend to think about their parents - especially the mother who bought them up.

Notice what Jesus said, when he heard His mother being complimented - He said that those who obey the word of God are blessed!

I am a huge proponent of inner beauty. Luke 11:33-36 speaks about that inner beauty - filled with light.

The fearless manner in which Jesus speaks - WOW! Yes, Jesus is speaking the truth and He is not afraid of anyone. Nobody can speak anything back to Him - He is so well versed with wisdom, learned and trained in the law. More than anything, He is pure. He is obedient to His Father, and is walking according to His will. Once we are pure, we can be fearless. Once we have the backing of Lord, whom should we fear?

I admire those fearless people who speak the truth.

Matthew 12: 22-50

Jesus has landed in the midst of various controversies, and this time it is related to exorcism.

When Jesus healed a who was blind and mute, he was able to see and speak. While everyone was astonished, the Pharisees saw Jesus as devil's emissary and called him diabolical. Jesus knew their thoughts and clarified if that was the case, then Satan would be on a suicide mission. This calling of names hurts Jesus and he says there are only two sides:
Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 
People gathered around Jesus to see him perform miracles. When they asked him for a sign, he told them the story of Jonah, and related his own story.
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 
He further said that Queen of Sheba came from the farthest part of the world to hear the wisdom of King Solomon, and now someone greater that King Solomon was right there in front on them - whom they failed to see. Jesus also called the current generation 'wicked.'

Jesus' mother and brothers were outside and they called him. At that point, Jesus said that whoever did the will of his father was his brother, sister and mother.

Additional Info
Life of Pi - did you get a chance to watch that movie? If not, then I would encourage you to watch it once. We did that as part of our family outing on big screen - it was cool! My son was happy he understood the Malayalam words they spoke!

The movie "Life of Pi" is a deeply religious film. The story opens with a discussion between a writer and a man from India who shares a fascinating story. The man has come to Pi because a friend told him that "Pi has a story that will make you believe in God." Pi tells the story of his life, and a terrible tragedy that happens to him.

His parents are zoo-keepers. They board a freighter with all the animals to transporting them to Canada. While at sea, the cargo ship sinks and Pi escapes alone on a raft with four of the animals, including an adult Bengal tiger. He vividly tells the story of surviving on the raft, and that the Tiger was ultimately responsible for keeping him alive.

The story ends with Pi describing how officials from the shipping came to his hospital room to find out what happened and how the ship sunk. The officials didn't believe his story of the tiger and animals stranded with him on the raft. Pi then offers them a different version of what happened.

The second version that he tells them is much more believable. In this version, four people made it off the sinking ship and onto the raft. One of them died horribly from his injuries and his flesh used for fishing bait. Another was killed by a mean cook. Pi's mother was also killed by the cook and then Pi killed the cook and remained on the raft until he was rescued.

Pi then tells the writer the meaning of the story. Pi states, "I've told you two stories. Neither explains the reason for our horrible suffering. No one can prove either story. In both stories the results are the same. So which STORY do you believe?

"Life of PI" is not a movie made to tell you the story of a boy stranded on a boat with a tiger. It is not a movie made to tell you the story of how a boy coped with the horrible experience of being shipwrecked. It is a story to tell you why people believe in God.

To the world, people believe in God because believing makes their lives better. But do not come to Jesus because believing makes you feel better or makes you a better person! Believe in Jesus because you are a sinner and Jesus came here to die for you. He wanted you to know for sure that he died for you by being buried for three days!

So, who is Jesus to you?

Credits: Paul Barreca

My Thoughts
If I am not with Jesus, then I am against Jesus - Whoa! There is no neutral ground!

Jesus Christ is the one and only One who is wiser than King Solomon.

Jesus speaks about expelling a spirit from a person and it returning along with seven other spirits to the same body if the person was not careful.

Matthew 11

The opposition to Jesus grew more intense, and even John the Baptist, who was locked up in prison doubted whether Jesus is the Messiah they've been waiting for. Jesus conveys the message to go tell John what's going on as far the miracles they saw
Matthew 11:4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus then spoke about John the Baptist - he thinks no less of John. According to Jesus, he is the greatest prophet - the new Elijah predicted by Malachi. Jesus points out that the humblest one in the Kingdom of Heaven is more privileged than John.

Further, Jesus displayed his pity and sorrow over opinion polls. People called John crazy when he came fasting, and rejected Jesus who came feasting. Jesus drove the point that 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating.'

Next Jesus rebuked those who rejected him - primarily the ones in Galilee. The reason was because they clearly heard his message and saw the miraculous ministry of Jesus and still turned their back towards him.

Further, Jesus said a praise to the Father for concealing His ways from the 'know it all's' and revealed it to the ordinary and little children. He also spoke about the unique Father-Son relationship.

For those who were tired with the burden of religion, Jesus promised comfort and rest:
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Additional Info
John the Baptist was held prisoner by Antipas, the younger son of Herod the Great

Predictions about John the Baptist is int eh last chapter of Malachi 4:5.

My Thoughts
Jesus offers rest and an easy yoke, for all those who are under the heavy yoke. Could it be possible that Jesus Christ is spreading a lie? Would Jesus ever make such a false promise?

Sounding like a Teacher, Jesus is telling us to learn from Him - He is gentle and humble in heart and we will find rest for our souls it seems. Can we trust Jesus? If so, how much can we trust?