Saturday, June 28, 2014

Airline Safety Announcements

Most of us, seldom pay attention to those boring in-flight safety announcements.

Back in 2009, David Holmes of Southwest airlines made an unusual preflight announcement to entertain customers on the flight and to relieve his own boredom with the familiar routine. One of the passengers recorded that and posted it on youtube.

The airline industry then went through a phase of re-doing their safety presentation. While flying Delta, I see a new version almost every month.

Here are few for you to have fun. If you have a trip lined up in the near future, hope to watch one of these and it'll make you wanting to fly more.

Southwest - David Holmes

Virgin America

El Al Airline

Air New Zealand

Philippine Airline

Air New Zealand - disco

Turkish Airline

Sri Lankan Airlines


Delta 1

Delta Holiday Season

Safety in Paradise - Swimsuit Edition

A Cute One

Friday, June 27, 2014

Transformed by the hand of God

We all love listening to stories. Fishermen love to listen fish stories. To fully enjoy those stories, one should have seen that, been there, done that. This story is about a group of fishermen gathered in a little pub in Scotland, and they were telling stories - fish stories. While describing the “fish that got away” one of the men wildly flung out his arms and he accidentally knocked a tray of drinks out of their waitress’ hands. The drinks flew everywhere and one mug of dark beer hit the newly painted white wall behind her. After the crash came a deadly silence as the whole group turned and looked at the ugly stain on the wall.

Within a breath of time, a man who had been seated at another table jumped up and pulled out a piece of charcoal from his pocket. To everyone’s amazement he began sketching around the brown stain on the wall. Shortly, Sir Edwin Landseer, Great Britain’s most famous wildlife artist, transformed that horrible stain into a splendid stag racing across a highland meadow. He signed his name and left the wall an invaluable work of art.

Anyone who examines the Holy Bible will find ample stories of ordinary men and women transformed by the hand of God. On that day in Scotland, Landseer transformed an ugly mess into a masterpiece. Everyday, all over the world, Our God is in the business of healing our wounds, erasing our scars and transforming at least some of us.

If we have sufficient faith and courage to willfully entrust our lives into His hands, He will take us, cleanse us, transform us and use us for the purpose of building His everlasting Kingdom.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I am a Christian

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin’.”
I’m whispering “I was lost,
Now I’m found and forgiven.”

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak of this with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not holier than thou,
I’m just a simple sinner
Who received God’s good grace, somehow.”

Credits: Maya Angelou

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The concept of Purgatory

Another term which you may have heard in conjunction with heaven, hell and afterlife could be 'purgatory'. It is a concept of the Catholic church which is not entirely based on the Holy Scripture.

According to Catholic faith, apart from heaven and hell, there is an intermediate place - for those souls who are not fully fit for heaven, nor so sinful to be destined for hell. Such souls are believed to land at this intermediate place called 'purgatory' - for the purpose of cleansing.

Catholics define purgatory as the state of those who die in God’s friendship, assured of their eternal salvation, but who still have need of purification to enter into the happiness of heaven. Souls in purgatory are unable to pray for themselves or do anything at all to relieve their suffering. Therefore, the Catholic church encourage their believers to pray for the deceased who rely on their prayers and efforts to help them (out of purgatory).

Based on what I understood, purgatory took shape using these three concepts:
(a) "Nothing impure will enter Heaven"
(b) Fire will testify
(c)  Prayer for deceased

The book of revelation speaks about no sin entering the gates of heaven - thus declaring Heaven as the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God
Revelation 21:27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
 The verse that speaks about fire testifying one's quality of work is given below.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved - even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Referring to the above verse, non Catholics point out that it is the works of a person which is being tested by fire and not the person itself.

Those who argue against the notion of purgatory say that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ acquires perfect and definitive value. Jesus Christ suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. His suffering is sufficient for atonement of our sins and we don't need any further cleansing in Purgatory.

Caring for the dead and praying for them was a practice which existed in Judaism even before the time of Jesus Christ. The Catholic church encourages members to pray for their deceased by conducting Holy Eucharist on their behalf and provide alms. They teach, "Because of the communion of saints, the faithful who are still pilgrims on earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering prayers in suffrage for them, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice. They also help them by almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance."

Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches disagree with this faith. According to Protestants, the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Orthodox Churches consider Purgatory an unnecessary doctrinal innovation.

After spending countless hours trying to digest the topic of purgatory, here is my conclusion:
Even if purgatory exists, let us not count that as our option.

Additional Info:
The Catholic church did not keep quiet about those remarks - especially the one which claimed 'purgatory' was not a biblical concept. They then discovered a suitable verse in one of the writings called Maccabees, which could support their concept of purgatory:
2 Maccabees 12:46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
When Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic church in 1521 AD, he took the original Bible along with him to form the Protestant churches. That is the regular Bible which we possess.

The Catholic church soon modified their Bible to make 'purgatory' a 'Biblical concept' by adding several Apocrypha books. The Council of Trent held in 1546 AD officially canonized the Apocrypha.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Where we go next

Those who die disappear from our sight - but where do they go? This is a great mystery and countless people have tried to answer this. This post is viewing this age old question in light of the Holy Scripture. Further, am writing this in the simplest form without any theological jargon.

Within Christianity, there are two major divisions about what happens to the soul after death.

Evangelical Christians including Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses say the soul sleeps and remains with the body until the day of Christ's return.  Protestants and Catholics believe that the soul leaves the dead body.

This confusion is caused by taking the literal meaning of certain Biblical verses. The Bible speaks of death as "falling asleep" and even the disciples of Jesus could not understand this difference.
John 11:11-14 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,
A similar passage from the Old Testament:
1 Kings 2:10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.
This belief does not have a solid base when we view other verses from the scripture. For example, if we review the words Jesus spoke on the cross, according to Luke and Matthew:
Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Matthew 27:50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
Do you recall the story of Elijah resurrecting a young boy. If you pay attention to Elijah's prayer, he asked God to return the boy's soul to his body. For this particular verse, we are going to refer the Complete Jewish Bible. 
1 Kings 17:21-22 He stretched himself out on the child three times and cried out to Adonai: “Adonai my God, please! Let this child’s soul come back into him!” Adonai heard Eliyahu’s cry, the child’s soul came back into him, and he revived. 
One final example where Jesus resurrected Jarius' twelve year old girl:
Luke 8:53-55 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.
Looking at all these examples, let us conclude the spirit does not remain with the body. Now, we wonder were it actually goes. 

We say it goes to heaven. But heaven has two components - a temporary heaven and an eternal heaven. Throughout our postings, we've been talking about eternal heaven. Though there is a temporary heaven, we are not mentioning about it very much. 

This past month, I visited India, and my destination was Bangalore. While sharing my trip with my friends, I told them I was going to Bangalore. My trip had two legs of travel: Philly to London, and London to B'lore. I had a layover of over 8 hours at London, till my next flight was ready to take off to my final destination. Though I was in London for 8 hours, I did not tell anyone I was going to London - it just happened to be a temporary halting place, or a transit. My original plan was to visit the British Museum rather than sit at London Heathrow - that plan did not work out as I arrived too early. Instead, I decided to go around visiting various duty free shops, comparing prices of merchandise and checked out those 'English News and Tabloids'. While strolling through the airport terminals, I had two things in mind - when my family would join me at London and when my next flight to B'lore was departing. After waiting in London for about 5 hours, I reunited with my family and got caught up on their news. Together, we boarded our next flight to B'lore. 

Our trip to heaven is also somewhat similar. We all will die and go to a wonderful temporary heaven where God and Jesus are present. Everyone will be joyful there. We all will be busy meeting family and friends at this temporary heaven. There we will meet everyone who has walked this planet, including our ancestors, saints, great monarchs, philosophers, and all our loved ones. Further, we will also be waiting for our loved ones to join us after completing their life on earth. Together, we all will be looking forward for Christ's second visit to earth. That day and time is unknown to everyone. 
Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Next will be the time of "Great White Throne Judgement." Jesus Christ will be the judge, all unbelievers will be judged by Christ, and they will be punished according to the works they have done. Both unbelievers and believers will be judged by Jesus Christ on this occasion. 
Romans 2:5-6 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”
On that day of final judgement, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and each one of us will give an account to God. This was clearly mentioned by Paul in his book to Romans
Romans 14:11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Those whose names are written in the book of life, we will be rewarded, but not punished, according to our deeds. The book of Revelation tells us more about the book of life and the lake of fire. Once that process is complete, those whose names appear in the book of life will be separated from the temporary heaven to their next destination. 

God will shift His abode to the New Earth, which by virtue of His presence will become the New Heaven. Jesus will then lead all those people whose names appear in the book of life to spend eternity with God at His new mansion - the New Heaven. 

This post just scratches the surface on this topic and gives a "big picture" of what is in store for all of us. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

With each other

A great majority of us are afraid of death and it happens to be a topic we tend to avoid. Regardless, we desperately miss our loved and dear ones who have entered the deep sleep ahead of us.

Jesus teaches us that our marriage is going to last only in this world. We will not have the roles of husbands and wives in heaven.
Matthew 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
This will be a huge relief for many who are waiting to have their own freedom - especially those women folks. No more cooking, washing, cleaning and taking orders from the husband. However we will have friends in heaven, who will be laughing and having fun with us.

A great number people, after hearing this will react, "Are you saying there will be no sex in heaven?" Of course, sex is one of those divine feelings which contains both physical pleasure and emotional satisfaction. The secret in deriving that heavenly pleasure during sex is that it is best enjoyed with the one we love the most. Let the topic of sex not be a turn off - we will address the topic of sex soon.

One of the most frequent questions people ask is, "Will be able to recognize each other in heaven?"

Jesus was recognized by Mary Madeline and his disciples. His disciples were even able to recognize Moses and Elijah at transfiguration though they had never seen them before. God has some mechanism to enable us to recognize those whom we have not met earlier. Bible does not suggest God wiping away human memory and formatting our brains. And that being the case, we will be able to recognize our near and dear ones.

Come on, do you really believe those who make it to heaven will be greater fools in God's house than we are on this earth?