Saturday, July 19, 2014

Apple and Bible superstitions


Apple plays a prominent role in the life of boys and girls, while they are growing up. Modern fashionable youngster use Apple products, prominently iPhone, more than the good old actual apple to stay connected with friends and family. Believe it or not, once upon a time, good old apple and apple seeds used to play a conspicuous part in a childish fortune-telling during childhood days.

It is believed that if an apple is cut in half, the number of seeds found inside the fruit will indicate the number of children that individual will have.

A popular saying about apple goes like this:

"An apple a day
Will keep the doctor away." 

We had an additional line to to this saying:

"If the doctor is cute, keep the apple away." 

Among girls, a common project during girlhood days is to place an apple-seed on each of the four fingers of the right hand, that is, on the knuckles, first moistening them with little bit of saliva. A companion then 'named' them, and the fingers were worked so as to move slightly. The seed that stayed on the longest indicated the name of your future husband.

"If someone peels an apple in one piece and throws it over his or her shoulder or head, it will fall in the shape of a future love's initial."

"Eating an apple in front of a mirror by the light of the candle was supposed to cause the image of you future love to appear in the mirror as if he was looking over your shoulder."

Name two seeds, one for yourself, one for your lover and toss them into a fire, if they "fly off in different directions, there will be no romantic relationship. If the seed burn together without flying off, the man will never propose. If they both fly off the same side...the pair will marry."

Among church going girls, there exists couple of superstitions with the Holy Bible. Here is how the first one goes, "Read the third verse of the third chapter of Hosea, Joel, and Amos for three Sundays in succession, and the first gentleman you walk with will marry you."

Yeah, I could have easily quoted those verses from Hosea, Joel and Amos here - those interested, please pick up your Holy Bible and read them for yourself.

The second superstition with Bible goes like this:

Put the end of a key in the Bible, on the verse of Solomon's Song reading, "I am my beloved's and he is mine;" close the book and bind it round with string or garter, each girl supporting the key with the first finger of the right hand. One of them repeats a verse to each letter as the other girl names it, beginning the alphabet, till it turns at the initial of the future husband or lover.

If you plan on trying out the second Biblical superstition, I want to warn you - there are two similar verses on those lines. Make sure you place that key on the correct verse.

Song of Solomon 6:3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
    he browses among the lilies.

Song of Solomon 2:16 My beloved is mine and I am his;
    he browses among the lilies.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The two pillowcases


1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Once upon a time, a  stingy old miser was seriously ill. One day he happened to hear a sermon related to the topic, "You can't take it with you." The old man, though bed ridden, was determined to prove wrong the old saying. He told his wife to go down to the bank and withdraw enough money to fill two pillowcases, which she did. Then he made necessary arrangements and calculations to ensure those pillowcases were placed in the attic, directly over his bed. His plan was by secretly stashing the bags directly over his bed in the attic, as soon as he died, his soul would grab those two pillowcases on it's way up to heaven.

One day the old fellow died. A few months after the funeral, his wife was up cleaning the attic, and stumbled across those two hidden pillowcases. She stopped her chores and sat there wondering how come he left these two pillowcases after all that elaborate planning.

It didn't take long for the wife to figure out what exactly happened. Excited with the new found wealth, she muttered to herself, “That old fool. His plan might have worked if he had put them in the basement!”


Back to the Bible


A new project is on the horizon - 'Back to the Bible' and have decided to embark on it. The intent of this journey is to learn little bit more about the Holy Bible and therefor improve any chances for that 'Pilgrimage to Heaven'.

Studying the Holy Scripture is to harness the greatest power in the universe - i.e., to align our attention with the infinite power of creation. It can be an incredibly powerful life altering experience. The urge to be part of that heavenly experience has to come from within, and cannot be forced. Those who have tasted it once and are interested in learning the word of God to derive that incredible power are already doing so. 

Cutting out that religious babble, in plain words, the idea is to hopefully understand little bit more about the Holy Bible, learn few additional things here and there, and to get grounded in my own Christian faith. 

This time around there will be no emails sent, encouraging others to read the Holy Scriptures - many are spared, or call them saved! Everyone can see and read what's posted here, in case they ever find a need for it. Not that I am expecting a huge crowd to follow me on this "extremely boring" & "un-cool" journey. This exercise, which has no rewards to many on earth whatsoever, is to pick few additional "biblical nuggets" for that -future Pilgrimage to Heaven. 

Am a spiritually weak person and am fully aware of my limitations. The amount of energy and blessings required to complete such a task is enormous - which has to come from above. It is that 'golden key' which I currently do not possess and am eagerly waiting for. 

Start date? Let's say, second half of August (tentatively). 


The Grand Center of our Souls


Leonardo da Vinci is one of those super-human characters and tops my list of 'Top 100 genius ever to have walked this planet'.

Born in Vinci, this Italian Renaissance polymath excelled as a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. We know him most commonly for his paintings, 'Mona Lisa' or 'The last supper'. While the Mona Lisa reminds me of this genius hiding the mystery and enigma in plain sight, 'The last supper' echoes how it turned out to be the most reproduced religious art of all time.

The last supper represents the scene of Jesus with his disciples, as it is told in the Gospel of John 13. Let's look at the chapter which Leonardo da Vinci probably read over a hundred times during the four year period, while commissioning this fabulous piece of art.

Come with me - let's go back in time when that actual event took place.

John Chapter 13
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal
18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Now, let's travel forward in time into year AD 1494 towards that small town of Milan, Italy, where the Duke of Milan commissioned Leonardo da Vinci with the work of capturing this image on canvas.

Having accepted the assignment to paint 'The last supper', he threw all his energies into the work. He labored early and late. No pains were spared by him. He pondered devoutly those pages of the New Testament which record the first sacramental feast, in order that he might do his best to realize and reproduce the memorable scene. At length his task was done. Having given the finishing stroke, he invited a few confidential friends to a private inspection. They gazed attentively, and various remarks were made.

An observation from one of them, however, led, as will be seen, to unexpected results. He spoke with great admiration of a golden chalice represented as being on the table at which our Lord and His disciples sat. Its shape, color, size, were all that could be desired.

"That," exclaimed the critic, "is the most beautiful object in the picture."

Hearing what was said, the artist, Leonardo da Vinci, took up a brush, and dipped it in black paint, and deliberately smeared it over the whole canvas.

His guests were stunned. Leonardo da Vinci soon explained and assured his guests that he did not act on an impulse.

"If," Leonardo da Vinci said, "what you tell me is true, then my picture is a failure, for I meant my Master's face to be the chief and most beautiful object."

We all are artists in a way or so, who are commissioned with the task of drawing a good or bad painting- the picture of our life. Too often, we make inferior things the most conspicuous objects on the canvas of our daily history, bestowing rich colors and careful handicraft upon trifles. Our Lord and Savior should be the grand center of our souls, and should have our chief and first attention.





-----
Correction: Leonardo was born in Vinci, Italy, and not Milan. Vinci and Milan are about 325 kms apart. Thank you for pointing this out. Correction made to reflect accordingly. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The presence of God


Ever wondered when we discover and feel the presence of our loving God the most?

You will be surprised to hear this - it is certainly not when we are heading to worship him at the church, not during those prayers. It is neither when we love others, nor while we engage in wonderful deeds such as charity.

The moment when we are about to turn away from Him, is when we start experiencing His presence so strongly. It is true that our mind will be most conscious about God at that very instant when we decide to leave His presence - the moment we start draining that positive energy.




Shining Armor


A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults; who will speak the honest truth to us, while the world flatters us to our face, and laughs at us behind our back; who will give us counsel and reproof in the day of prosperity and self-conceit; but who, again, will comfort and encourage us in the day of difficulty and sorrow, when the world leaves us alone to fight our own battle as we can.
~ Charles Kingsley. 

Biblical Phrases - 1


Those exploring through the English language, will be surprised to learn numerous phrases that made it's way from the Holy Bible. There are more than 100 of them. Today we will look at few:

Phrase:
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
Meaning:
This expression means that it is better to have an advantage or opportunity that is certain than having one that is worth more but is not so certain. "A bird in the hand," is yours, and it's not going anywhere unless you let it go. But if you leave it and go for "two in the bush," there is no guarantee you'll catch them, you might end up with nothing in the end. In essence, don't be greedy and stick with what good things you already have, instead of going after something you'll probably never get.
Origin:
Ecclesiastes 9:4 Anyone who is among the living has hope — even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

Phrase:
A drop in the bucket
Meaning:
A very small proportion of the whole commodity.
Origin:
 Isaiah 40:15.Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

Phrase:
A house divided
Meaning:
A house divided in opinion will not last for long - literal meaning.
This was part of a speech made by Abraham Lincoln to the Illinois Republican convention in 1858. In the speech, Lincoln noted that conflict between North and South over slavery was intensifying. He asserted that the conflict would not stop until a crisis was reached and passed, for, in a biblical phrase Lincoln used, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” He continued: “I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
Origin:
Luke 11:17  Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.

Phrase:
All men are liars
Meaning:
Only God is truthful and He is the source of truth, not men.
Origin:
Psa 116:11  in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”

Phrase:
All things must pass
Meaning:
Nothing lasts forever- every good and bad thing will eventually end.
Origin:
Matthew 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Translation


Isn't it interesting to note how we hear certain things and later how we translate them. Read a classic example.

A wife once decided to escort her husband to the doctor’s office for his annual checkup. Later, the doctor took the wife aside and said, “Unless you do the following things, your husband will surely die.”

“Here’s what you need to do," the doctor went on to say, "every morning make sure you serve him a good healthy breakfast. Meet him at home every day and serve him a well-balanced lunch. Also, feed him a good hot meal each evening. Don’t overburden him with stressful conversation, nor ask him to perform any household chores. Keep the house spotless and clean so he doesn't get exposed to any threatening germs. As a wife, be available to meet his every physical desire as well.”

On the way home the inquisitive husband asked his wife, “What did the doctor say?”

She replied, “He said you’re surely going to die soon."

The husband asked, "Did he ask you to do something about it?"

The wife said, "I need to check if your insurance policy is promptly paid.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alternatives to be happy


“There are two ways of being happy: We may either diminish our wants or augment our means- either will do- the result in the same; and it is for each man to decide for himself, and do that which happens to be the easiest. If you are idle or sick or poor, however hard it may be to diminish your wants, it will be harder to augment your means. If you are active and prosperous or young and in good health, it may be easier for you to augment your means than to diminish your wants. But if you are wise, you will do both at the same time, young or old, rich or poor, sick or well; and if you are very wise you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society.”
~ Benjamin Franklin. 

Song of the Mystic


I walk down the Valley of Silence --
Down the dim, voiceless valley -- alone!
And I hear not the fall of a footstep
Around me, save God's and my own;
And the hush of my heart is as holy
As hovers where angels have flown!

Long ago was I weary of voices
Whose music my heart could not win;
Long ago was I weary of noises
That fretted my soul with their din;
Long ago was I weary of places
Where I met but the human -- and sin.

I walked in the world with the worldly;
I craved what the world never gave;
And I said: "In the world each Ideal,
That shines like a star on life's wave,
Is wrecked on the shores of the Real.
And sleeps like a dream in a grave."

And still did I pine for the Perfect,
And still found the False with the True.
I sought 'mid the Human for Heaven,
But caught a mere glimpse of its Blue:
And I wept when the clouds of the Mortal
Veiled even that glimpse from my view.

And I toiled on, heart-tired, of the Human,
And I moaned 'mid the mazes of men,
Till I knelt, long ago, at an altar
And I heard a voice call me. Since then
I walk down the Valley of Silence
That lies far beyond mortal ken.

Do you ask what I found in the Valley?
'Tis my Trysting Place with the Divine.
And I fell at the feet of the Holy,
And above me a voice said: "Be mine."
And there arose from the depths of my spirit.
An echo -- "My heart shall be Thine."

Do you ask how I live in the Valley?
I weep -- and I dream -- and I pray.
But my tears are as sweet as the dewdrops
That fall on the roses in May;
And my prayer, like a perfume from censers,
Ascendeth to God night and day.

In the hush of the Valley of Silence
I dream all the songs that I sing;
And the music floats down the dim Valley,
Till each finds a word for a wing,
That to hearts, like the Dove of the Deluge,
A message of Peace they may bring.

But far on the deep there are billows
That never shall break on the beach;
And I have heard songs in the Silence
That never shall float into speech;
And I have had dreams in the Valley
Too lofty for language to reach.

And I have seen Thoughts in the Valley --
Ah! me, how my spirit was stirred!
And they wear holy veils on their faces,
Their footsteps can scarcely be heard;
They pass through the Valley like virgins,
Too pure for the touch of a word!

Do you ask me the place of the Valley,
Ye hearts that are harrowed by Care?
It lieth afar between mountains,
And God and His angels are there:
And one is the dark mount of Sorrow, 
And one the bright mountain of Prayer.



Credits - Father Abram J. Ryan

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Shepherd


Who is it that is your shepherd? The Lord! Oh, my friends, what a wonderful announcement! The Lord God of heaven and earth, the almighty Creator of all things, He who holds the universe in His hand as though it were a very little thing, - HE is your shepherd, and has charged Himself with the care and keeping of you, as a shepherd is charged with the care and keeping of his sheep. If your hearts could really take in this thought, you would never have a fear or a care again: for with such a shepherd, how could it be possible for you ever to want any good thing?

~ H W Smith on Psalm 23.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Book-length Novel


Lord as I hold her in my arms
And kiss her tiny fingers
I wonder if anyone in all the world
Has ever been as happy as I am now!

She's like a tiny poem
Short but beautiful -
And several years from now
She'll be a story.

Lord, I am trusting You
To write the Plot.
Then at last she'll be
A book length novel
Translated in many languages.

I am confident of this, Lord
For You are both
Author and Publisher.




Credits: Ruth Calkin

Congrats Germany!


This weekend all over the world, one topic dominated our news including internet, TV, radio, newspapers and social networking sites - FIFA finals. It was shaping up to be the main conversation in cafes, bars, offices, and even churches.

Just like that Superbowl Sunday, living rooms across our nation once again transformed and become lively. Germany eventually lifted that world cup after a 24 year wait. They were able to defeat hometown Brazil, and finally Argentina en-route.

Now that FIFA is over, I can share this - guys and girls have different vision regarding the game. Majority of guys who watch the game stay glued in front of the TV, munching chicken (and sipping beer?) anticipating that next goal to happen any moment. Gals on the other hand, tend to be lot relaxed and this is their only chance to spot some athletic and physically fit guys, who possess the stamina to run long enough and not get tired.