Archive for March, 2012

Oh, How I love (d) you Peter …


Quickly he turned… And his eyes filled with the tears of rejection, reflected a sadness that lingered in the air. Behind that look was an ocean of love.

 

A few hours before a servant girl had looked at Peter and said,

“This man was with him.”

Peter was quick to deny. A little later someone else exclaimed,

“You were also one of them.”

Peter, angry that he was accused, said,

“Man, I am not”

An hour passed by as he evaded curious looks and tried to blend in with the crowd. Suddenly another fellow shouted,

“Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

His face became red and he quietly retorted,

“Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

 

The sky had begun to lighten with a smear of deep pink along the horizon.  A rooster, perching on a tree stump, suddenly crowed with all its might, sending out a shrill echo into the dark, heavy air.

 

Cock – a – doodle – doo.

 

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, a look which pierced into the depths of his soul. Waves of disappointment and bitterness washed over him. He ran outside and wept like a little child.

 

Three and a half years before, he had been the first to leave his fishing boat and the life he had known since a little child, to join this stranger on an unknown mission. He had accepted and walked behind this gentle person like a little child hanging on to his father’s fingers. The once stranger had become his master and teacher and friend. His every word and deed was to Peter, a light shining into the darkness of his heart. He was even excited at the prospect of fishing for men along with this kind and gentle soul.

 

But now, everything had changed or so he had thought. His master had been captured by the roman soldiers and the life he had dreamed of had come to an end. All the words he had heard would remain just words, or would they?

 

That look helped cross his faltering steps into eternity’s path. After all, his master’s words had rung true. Through his grief, Peter was reminded that the words of the Lord had been fulfilled and the captured Jesus was still the Messiah.

 

Jesus, as he was pushed and shoved to the jail, wondered that those who had been closest to him had deserted him in his hour of loneliness and pain. Even then, he loved them and Peter even more so. When he had told Peter what would happen before the rooster crowed, a part of him (must have) hoped that Peter would heed the warning and be on guard. But that was not to be so. Although Satan had been given permission to sift him as wheat, Jesus had prayed that his beloved disciple’s faith will not fail. He had great plans for Peter.

 

 

One evening long after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said,

“We’ll go with you.”

So they went out but they caught nothing that night. As morning approaches, Jesus appears there and tells them to haul in from the left side which results in a miraculous catch. And just like in the old days, Peter is the first to jump into the water to reach Jesus, when he realizes that his beloved master is back. His spirit is once again full of the zeal for the Lord. Later after a joyous reunion and delicious breakfast, Jesus completes a half – finished circle.

He asks Peter,

“Do you love me more than all these things?”

Peter surprised says, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus quietly says,

“Feed my lamb,” and turns away.

A little later he turns to Peter and asks again,

“Do you love me?”

Peter sad that Jesus asked him again, affirms quickly,

“Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus looks up and says,

“Take care of my sheep”

A little while later Jesus asks again,

“Simon, do you love me?”

At this point, Peter hurt that his master did not believe him, quietly says,

“Lord, you know everything and you know that I love you.”

And a third time, Jesus asks him to feed His sheep.

 

Peter feels a quiet strength and peace within him. He feels he is ready to do His master’s work again. The Lord had undone the pain he had inflicted through his denial of Him thrice, by drawing from his own mouth a confession of his love for the Lord, three times. His loving and gentle master had longed to hear again that he really loved Him more than everything else, even through his weaknesses; because his master who had worn a crown of thorns and hung on a cross and gave up his life had loved him enough to do it, and continued to love him more than all else !

 

{Based on Luke 22 and John 21}

 

Tell the Lord continually that you love Him no matter what you have done or what you are going to do!!

 

God bless. 

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Unfading village scenes from ‘yesteryears’


-Memories of a better life

A quick weekend at my mother’s native village had me longing again for the life once lived by the inhabitants of that beautiful house. Beautiful ‘sunful’ mornings, and time spent roaming about the abundance of fruit trees, taking a pick of seasonal fruits from among them; afternoons spent sucking ripe mangoes, alternating it with raw ones; enjoying the companionship of cows, hens, ducks and other animals, their revenue itself remaining meager compared with the silent joy these loving animals gave. Of course the dogs were always part of the family and they still are for the old house keeper who remains alone in that house. I also remember a cat which ventured to make our ‘Palasseri’ home its own when I spent summer there in 1995.

I captured a few snaps to record the shadow of ‘once upon a time’ so that I could still associate the memories of my childhood – which in itself was a shadow of my mother’s childhood there.

Here are the snaps with a few comments:

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The outhouse and the well taken in the early morning rays of the sun

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The same captured just before twilight – more lighted and brighter like my spirit when it lands on this soil.

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Many summer rendez-vous have been spent with cousins, uncles, aunts or just grandma, papa, mama and my sister, sitting on this veranda, swinging like a monkey on those pillars and even stretching out in the L shaped corner for a quick nap – still love doing that !!

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The cowshed can be seen in the background where the milkman used to come and collectMilk. Now all that remains is the shed, leaving a tad of the taste of fresh, thick milk in my mouth and scenes of frolicking calves on the canvas of my mind. I remember feeding banana peels to some of the cows which I used to name after my sisters and cousins (a long-kept secret shhhh!! )

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Standing tall – I’ve spend many hours gazing at the chimney smoke and even getting doubts in my toddler mind on how chimneys worked. A sooty old chimney against which the freshness of the mangoes stand out – I love this shot.

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Dew drops on the leaves, just after dawn – it’s a sight which will captivate any mind dirtied by the pollution of modern cities.

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Droplets on yam leaves – they are THE best but the beauty is hardly seen in the pic taken on a low pixel mobile camera.

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Ah the indigenous genius fruits of Kerala. Any mallu (keralite) would love this sight. Note it that I only love the sight!

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This was a glorious sight too… so many upcoming (downfall-ing) promises of tasty meals and desserts and stomach pains! Oh, by the way, my mother recollected some of her halcyon days spend studying under the cool shades of these trees. No wonder she went on to be an engineer. I have an excuse to tell her that I was never so comfortable with the fan in my room.

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After taking a round of the one acre land I came back on the other side of the cow shed. I have stood here and watched dung fall out – fresh from the holes as it was washed down to be collected in the trench and later made into dung cakes (for floors n walls –FIY gen X) and also used as fertilizers. One thing which amused me enough to look into the dung trench were the hens which used to sit on top of the dry dung on one side, to hatch its little eggs. Maybe it used to know instinctively that it was safe from my curious pokes down in the dung hole.

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A heritage monument – a wooden hen house used to be on top through which the hens could potty down into this hole. I have spent many summer afternoons trying to teach a cock to sit down and not stand pulling at its tether. I used to be furious that it disobeyed me so I would literally press them down and make them stay that way with my hand. I never knew that it was only the force from my hand which kept them down. Cruel me!  But I loved those clucking, colourful, spotted and speckled hens and I ran behind them as they tried to evade me as well as approach to the sounds of ba ba ba baa kozhi baa – sounds which promised them mouthfuls of tasty, crispy grains some of which I myself stole to taste. I didn’t share their joy at the taste though!

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This sight on Saturday morning brought tears to my eyes because words cannot express the number of tasty meals this comfy nook has prepared for me and my family. As sooty and old as it seems, it still fries the best “karimeens” (pearl spot fry) and makes the best meals a mouth could ever taste.  These stone stoves with firewood collected from the land behind, crackling cheerfully can give you hunger pangs and other worldly tastes one can never forget.

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A closer look at the rice boiling over- getting ready for the afternoon meal.

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The store-room from time immemorial, even the termites eating into the threshold seem to be doing a slow job relishing even the taste of the centuries’ old wood. This place was out of bounds to mischievous children like me, begging for extra mangoes and sweet jackfruit- jaggery desserts. 

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This was where the vessels with fresh fried foods were kept so that the ants nor us reached them before the appointed time.

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As old as it is, it is still the strongest roof in Kerala-dom and the light filtering through a misplaced tile could easily be corrected with a little re-arrangement. Albeit, it be done before rainy season or the kitchen would be flooded. But isn’t the sun rays coming through a pretty sight?

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She is the talkative keeper of our beloved “Palasseri” house. Doesn’t she just fit in with the scene?

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She is amused that I should take so many pictures. Her condescending look showered on me!

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Fresh white dough being swung into swirly white noodle strings, for my morning breakfast.

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On the way to becoming sweet soft Idiyappams. I was hungry just seeing the sights of noodle strings, fresh grated coconut and sugar.

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These white flowers have always stood sentinel on either side of the gate. I never remember a time spent there when these white flowers were not in bloom. They represent the purity of the memories I associate with “Palasseri” house.

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My mother says one of these can feed five poor families. Wow!! Imagine tht…. Maybe I should start a jackfruit farm and feed the poor? (*Blink*)

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Kanna – smart doggy , keeping watch. He is a fussy eater and his ribs can be counted out but he has a powerful bark which can scare anyone away.

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Vellu – best friend of Kanna and mine too!

He eats jackfruits papayas mangoes and 2 kilos + of beef . He took some time to come to me but once with me, he didn’t want to leave.  You know, he even growled at me when I imitated his panting (I got scared 😛 )

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Waiting faithfully for his share of mangoes. He is a plump one- this one.

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“Don’t come in or leave without my permission. This be my territory! “

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Sigh! This little mango tree represents the evergreen memories I have of this place. They are etched deep into the recesses of my mind where a few cobwebs can climb in which can nevertheless be wiped away by the love captured within the frames of these pictures.

Who doesn’t love flowers?! (Longwood Gardens pt. 1)


A post i came across during my random reads and fell in love with..

Of Light & Lens

Since I left Longwood Gardens with 300 photos in my memory card, I thought I’d break them down a bit.

If you’d like to see part two, go here!

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I am gonna end this set with my very favorite photo. It is how I wish all of these photos turned out. Everything relevant is in focus, it’s beautifully lit, it’s crisp, and beautiful. You get this because you scrolled to the end of the post!

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And now some force !


All said and done (according to us), what is left for us to do?

In the last two articles, I wrote about overcoming the invisible pull towards a sinful older self and about the effects of sin on our faith. In this post, I want to look at what it takes to continue walking successfully with the Lord.

 

Two simple words with an underlying third meaning come into my mind. Obedience and trust but neither is possible without submission. And submission is not possible without surrender. Hypothetically we all know that it is better to obey than be punished, but as humans we continue till we are scathed, even disregarding the punishment yet to come. When we talk of obeying God, we should note that it is not about a miserable Father who wants to hurt us but about a Father who knows what is best for us. So why is surrender so difficult? Jesus says:

 

“Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” [Luke 18:25]   

 

The riches of this world on which our eyes are set (knowledge, material wealth or desires) determine the condition of our heart and when we are blinded by that wealth, it is impossible for us to turn our hearts to God. When Peter asks, who then can be saved, Jesus answers: What is impossible for man is possible for God. God has made the narrow way open to man but the truth is that way is still narrow and difficult. We need to surrender everything including every thought in obedience to Christ. On another occasion Jesus says,

 

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. [Mathew 11:25]

 

The sinners of Jesus’s day were in such earnestness that they pushed in to listen to him, thirsting for forgiveness and salvation. It still calls for the same amount of violence for us to give up the desires of this world and submit to God.  It takes the force of our will to overcome the lust of eyes, lust of flesh and the pride of life with the grace of God. It takes a violent effort to take hold of the heavenly kingdom. Bring yourself before God by force (of course u cannot remain there without grace, so ask for it) and train and discipline yourself to keep running till the race is run and the victory is won! 

 

In the gospels we can see that Jesus asked an unrepentant generation to repent and believe for the kingdom of God was near. And to those who believed Jesus said, follow me. And to those who followed him Jesus said, deny yourself.

 

In simple words, our ‘self’ stands between us and God. If we are lazy and foolish like the virgins who were not ready when Jesus returned, those who are quicker and wiser will enter in by force while we are left wondering where we missed out.

 

Let us pray to God while he may still be found so that when the mighty waters rise it will not reach us (Psalm 32:6).

 

 

 

 

 

When sin comes in with a bang at the front door…..


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Our faith goes out quietly through the back door. In the last article I wrote about dents made on the ‘self’ by sin. Our sins being many can we imagine how corrupted we have become in body, mind and soul. Is there place for faith in a corrupt self?

Like many a Christian, I made the mistake of thinking – I have faith – faith that Jesus is the son of God, that He died for my sins and that He rose again. But did this faith stop me from committing sin? The answer was many times a sad no.

So what really happened in the bargain? Was not my kind of faith ‘the’ real faith? Let us look at what the Bible says about faith. John says :

…every child of God is able to defeat the world. And we win the victory over the world by means of our faith.Who can defeat the world? Only the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. [1John 5: 4-5, Good News Translation]

Did u see that? We win the victory over the world by our faith in Jesus as Son of God.

Where then is the problem? The problem lies with our failure to put faith into action, to win over sin. When we sin some, an equal amount of faith within us is affected. Sin and purity being so contradictory, one cannot exist in the other’s presence. So the truth is, every time we sin and do not repent, a little faith dies within us. (How much faith have we left? :O)

As long as we are not tuned in to our spiritual life, we miss out on this utter calamity happening in our spirit. Now we know why it becomes a lot harder to go back and say with the same faith (that we once had) that we believe what the Bible says. And gradually, there comes a point when we become spiritually dead. We become Christians with a dead faith!!

But the good news is that the whole gospel is about the grace of God, forgiving us, cleansing us and renewing our faith; when we ask. And this new faith is oftentimes referred to as growing. What is this growing faith? Faith which exercises its victory over sin and the world; faith which gives out light like the lamp on the stand, giving light to everyone; and faith which does not leave a person to live in any way but calls a person to the life of quiet surrender, is growing faith.  And it becomes a Living Faith.

In my next and last article in this category I will write about what it takes to surrender to God.

Why this existential tilt towards an older self?


 

Even as the word of God assures me that I am a new creation in Christ and the old is done with (2 Corinthians 5:17), an uncannily familiar voice enters stealthily and blends into the background of my mind – “Don’t even bother to change. It is better to do things “your” way!

I often spend time thinking about why I always return to those very sins I have surrendered to my Lord and as a result of this search, God answered me through a few people. And I would like to elaborate on what I found out in a series of articles. Some of these truths are so simple and stares me in the face. But we tend to forget these simple truths because the word of God is often pushed out of our minds.

When I began this article, I spoke of two contradictory voices- one is the Holy Spirit asking me to trust in God’s word and His power to help me overcome temptation. The other is the voice of the tempter, asking me to exert my old sinful self. A person’s weaknesses are best known to the devil. Thus, our inclination (the devil’s and in turn mine if I give him space) will always be to move our ‘selves’ into that sin.

To better illustrate this point, imagine a plane, thin, wooden board balanced on a pointed beam. It is so balanced because the sharp point of the beam is touching the board at it’s centre of gravity. If a weight is added to one part of the board the centre of gravity starts to shift. The board is no longer balanced and it topples over.( U can look at the pic of the balancing bird to understand the illustration better :P)

It is so with our Christian lives. We were created to live beautifully balanced lives, with God as the centre of our existence. But when we sin, our focus begins to shift and our lives become unbalanced. And, as long as we remain under the weight of sin, we will be helpless. Once in a while we ask God to forgive us when we come to a sudden realization of our state, but what we don’t realize is that a little dent has been made where the weight of sin had been previously. Every time we commit that sin, the dent becomes a little deeper.

For this to be prevented, we should continually ask for God’s covering over that area. But often we make the mistake of thinking it is enough to ask just once. God is so gentle that when we later try to peek towards that sin, He moves away. So we need to ask God daily to fill us with grace to overcome our temptations. As we ask, His work to repair the dent becomes easier. We also need to remember that , the minute we go back to that sin, we undo the healing work of our Father which has to be started all over again.

As Christians, we all struggle with sin daily and so Paul reminds us in Romans:

So then, brethren, we are debtors, but not to the flesh [we are not obligated to our carnal nature], to live [a life ruled by the standards set up by the dictates] of the flesh. For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever. [Romans 8:12-13, Amplified Bible]

May our Lord Jesus Christ give us the grace to overcome our weaknesses and walk in His healing presence daily.

In my next post I will look at what happens to our faith when we sin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Open my master’s eyes, Lord”


[There once was a greedy man called Balaam. The wicked King of Moab sent for Balaam and promised him money if he would curse God’s people. God talked to Balaam and told him not to go to the King, and not to curse His people. Again the King of Moab sent Princes to call Balaam. God was angry with Balaam because Balaam’s heart was filled with greed. God let Balaam go to the King.On the way… ]

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“What wrong have I done? Why are you tormenting me like this?”, cried out the poor animal. Inspite of its repeated plea, the beast of burden received even more lashes. In bitter agony it must have cried out to the creator, “Open my master’s eyes Lord, that he may see what I see.”

 

The creator answered the poor beast’s prayer by performing two miracles. First the Lord opened its mouth to justify its refusal to move forward. “Have I ever disobeyed your commands? Even then why do you torture me thus?

 

It’s master didn’t know what to answer. The Lord then answered the donkey’s prayer in full through a second miracle. The master’s eyes were opened. Only then could he see the angel of the Lord blocking the way with a drawn sword.

“You are now alive only because of your faithful jument which refused to move. Otherwise I would’ve chopped you to pieces leaving it to escape.”

 

The prophet Balaam had set out on a journey against God’s will and purpose, riding on his donkey, in alliance with the prophets ofMoab. Instead of waiting for the mysterious ways of the Lord, he had set out, fully depending on his own strength and ability. This story is a strong warning to those who boast about their knowledge, wisdom, influence, position and wealth, to achieve anything they desire and who forget their creator in the process.

 

In the light of this story, we can submit to the Lord through the following prayers:

 

  1. Open my eyes Lord, that I may see the guardian blocking my way, when I am on the wrong path. (Numbers 22.31)
  2. Open my eyes, that I may witness the army of heaven, outnumbering my enemies, when I am almost on the verge of defeat. (2 Kings 6:17)
  3. Open my eyes that I may comprehend the miracles in thy written, unchanging word.(Psalm 119:18)
  4. Open my eyes that I may feel thy presence at the Holy Table having full communion with thee in flesh and blood. (Luke 24: 30,31)
   Amen

 


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