To be a child – Walk First, Talk Next

In the Bible, King Solomon, the wisest of the wise, the man who pretty much experienced life to the fullest makes an astounding self proclaimation. He says that he is only a little child as recorded in 1 Kings 3:7. It is a pity that Solomon began with dedication and humility to serve God and God’s people, but toward the end of his life, did not seek to wholeheartedly please God (1 kings 11:9-11). But this proclaimation about himself got me thinking.
What does it mean to be a child?
While there are many thoughts that can surface from this analysis, such as a child has implicit unconditional trust (believes in fairy tales, Mickey Mouse, etc), is dependent on his/her parents for provisions and protection, yada yada yada, one thought that struck my core was that in a child we see the pattern of life that God wants us to live.
Our darling son, Reuben Abishai Paul (Baby RAP) when he was a little over one year old, started to walk and when he was about two, started to talk.
This is kind of true of most children. Children walk first and then talk. As Christians, this is how the pattern should be, we should live our lives (walk the walk) before trying to preach to the world (talk the talk). Our lives may be the one Bible some one reads in their lifetime.

Point(s) to Ponder:
1. Are we walking the walk and the talking the talk or is it the other way round?
2. Can we recognize that we are only children and should have implicit unconditional trust in God and be dependent on him for everything.

1 Kings 3:7 (King James Version)
7. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

Marinate in his Law, day and night

While teaching our 3 year old, Reuben, the wisdom Psalm (Psalm 1), as he repeated it, line by line, when we came to verse 2 (…and in his law, doth he meditate day and night), he said something that sounded like … and in his law, doth he MARINATE day and night.

This got me thinking when I realized that from the mouth of babes, God does speak and upon searching for the meaning of the word ‘MARINATE’, I learned that to marinate means to “soak”. How appropriate!

God wants us to soak in his word (law), a.k.a. the living words in the Holy Scriptures (the Bible). Our minds should be filled with the words of God and we should be soaking in it, so that we can effectively use it (the word) –

  1. as a defensive shield and not sin against God, displeasing and hurting him (His word that is hidden in our hearts will impede us from sinning against God) and/or
  2. as an offensive sword (Ephesians 6) against the schemes of the enemies of God (one of them being the world, the other being the ruler of this ephemeral world and his minions).

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. Did you/I read the Bible (God’s word/law) today?
  2. Is your/my mind pondering on the things you read?
  3. Are you/I soaking (marinating) in his law, every conscious (day) and sub-conscious (night) moment?

Four stages of Spiritual Growth

Stage 1: All of me and none of God
This is the “self centered” individual suffering from what I call the “Me, Myself and I” syndrome. Note: sIn has got “I” in the middle, a.k.a. SIN =  Self Ish Ness
Traits : “Did not recognize me”, ” I deserve more than this”, “I have special spiritual gifts”, “I am better than someone else”, “I cannot be wrong”.

Stage 2: A lot of me and a little of God
This is the “bargainer”
Trait: God I will do this, if you do this for me

Stage 3: A little of me and a lot of God
This is the “grappler”
Trait: I can let go of everything except this one thing, akin to the child who asks his dad to fix the broken toy but who never let go of the toy.

Stage 4: None of me and All of God
This is the “selfless” individual
Trait: Personifies “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) and “Yet not I that liveth, but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal 2:20)

Point(s) to ponder:
Which stage are you in? Which stage am I in?

God’s priceless creation – Nameless

Once while traveling in Fortaleza, Brazil, my friend and brother,  Marcelo Goulart (who also helped with translation to Portuguese) and I had the privilege of talking to the Geovani, the lady who served us in the hotel we stayed. During the course of our conversation, she had a profound question, one that I could not answer then. She said, if we are sons/daughters of God and Jesus is the Son of God, then aren’t we brothers and sisters of Jesus and in that sense, equal to being ‘God’ ourselves? This is also the notion that some other pantheistic religions have in the world today.

God the creator brought every one of His creation to “the man” (Adam) so that he could give them names. (Gen 2:19). Interestingly, God never named even his most priceless of creation, whom God had created in Imago Dei (the image of God), but simply called him Adam meaning “the man”.  This is profound, we are NOT gods, we are men/women. Jesus, said, whoever does the will of my Father (God) is my brother and sister and mother, but He is the only begotten (God in essence), we are the created (reflections of God the maker, not God ourselves).

Unfortunately, we strive hard to change God’s plan and design by working really hard to make a name for ourselves (present company included).  This was the same desire that the people with a unified language had when they aspired to build the tower that reached unto heaven. They said “Lets build a city and a tower that reaches the heaven and let’s make a name for ourselves”. (Genesis 11:4). For those unfamiliar with this story, God intervened and confused their languages so that they all started babbling (and hence the name Babel) and were thus unsuccessful in their efforts. In God’s design, making a name for God is what he seeks, not making a name for ourselves.

We strive to make a name for ourselves but let us understand that when we seek NOT to be known, God will exalt us if it is in his permissive will.
Jesus who made himself of no reputation (Phil 2:7) was given a name above all names (Phil 2:9).

What is your NEW name?

An encounter with God invariably results in a change of name (even if not literally) and reputation. Abram (Exalted Father) was to be called “Abraham” (the father of many nations). Jacob the heel grabbing deceiver was renamed “Israel” (meaning one who wrestles with God). Saul, the persecutor was changed to Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles and arguably one of the greatest disciples of Jesus Christ.

The question then remains, if you have already met with God, what are you known for, “What are you going to be called?An even more important question is whether the name that you are going to be called is recorded in the Book of life (Rev 20:15). Think about this, What are you going to be called? What is your NEW Name? God is staking his reputation on YOU and ME.

Look at the birds of the air

One afternoon when taking a break from work, as I stepped into my backyard, I couldn’t help being inundated by the brilliance of the sounds that filled the air. The din of everyday life noises (automobiles on streets, computers buzzing, television commentary etc) were drowned by the sonnets and melody of the birds chirping and singing. I must admit, I did not quite understand what they were singing, suffice it to say, that it was harmony in my ears as my mind started to transcend into the beauty of God’s creation. As I strode further into the backyard, I noticed a couple of sparrows on a tree and every step closer to them, got them more and more flustered, dawning in me the realization that there was their nest (home) in the tree they were perched. I could not tell if the nest had their eggs or young. Their singing had rapidly changed and I speculate that their loud vocalizations either meant that they were calling for help perceiving me to be a threat and they were sending me a warning signal that I dare not venture into their territory. I continued walking toward their nest and now, I had one of the sparrow do what I felt was a kamikaze dive toward my head, followed by its partner. They clearly did not want me there and were willing to defend their nest with their very lives, should there be a need to. I first ducked to avoid the sparrows and then was filled with awe and respect for the bravery of these little birds that barely would have filled the size of my fist.

Another day as I was driving on the highway, I noticed a bird of prey, probably a red tailed hawk (a Texas Bird of prey) soaring in circles in the air, almost as if it was seeking to zone in on a target. As I observed the bird, I was overcome with an emotional response, as I recounted of God’s promise to provide for that bird’s daily bread, and my eyes welled up, streaming my cheeks with a deluge of tears.

Jesus said, Look at the Birds of the Air … (NASB: Matthew 6:26). Ever wonder why he would have said this? As I delved deeper into my experiences, I found to my surprise certain truths come to surface. There is so much depth in the statement “Look at the Birds of the Air …” that one can miss on perfunctorily review.

  1. First one is obvious from the verse. Jesus said this to reflect that God the Father is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. Just as the birds are provided for, so will we be.
  2. Secondly, when no danger was around, the birds were singing continuously, drowning the voices of the world. Our continuous praising of God will be harmony in someone else’s ears drowning the cares of the world for them or our own. When danger was around, they either called for help or were willing to ward off their danger, by vocalizing threats. This is exactly what God wants us to do, call to Him for help and be willing to voice our stand resisting (quoting the scriptures). The Bible says, resist the devil and he will flee from you.
  3. Thirdly, not only did the sparrows vocalize, but they also acted and were willing to take me, an individual more than 100 times their size, on for a fight. The hidden truth is that the size of our problems does not matter. Just as David, a little shepherd boy took on the trained-for-battle giant Goliath, so should we be willing to take on our problem/giants in our lives. The sparrows surely had the same Holy Spirit in them that was in David and that which is in us, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
  4. Fourthly and finally, the flying hawk brought to attention another distinctive principle that expands on the provisionary attribute of God the Father. While it is true that God will take care of the birds of the air, you don’t see birds perched on trees, expecting God to drop their food in their mouths. While this is not impossible for God, this is not the way God provides. The birds fly in search of food a.k.a. they work toward finding the provisions God has in store for them. Likewise, we cannot sit and idle and expect God to provide. We need to work toward seeking the provisions God has in store for us. For the first time, the adage, “God will help those who help themselves” made sense to me. Another noteworthy addition is that God takes care of the birds just as he does us, daily, not tomorrow, not next month, not next year or the next decade.

So next time, we look at the birds of the air, are we willing to realize that God is our provider; we need to continuously keep praising God as that could drown some of the noises in someone else’s life or our own; we should call to God for help and resist; we should stand and fight irrespective of how insurmountable our problem may seem; we should work toward seeking God’s provisions daily, one day at a time. Look at the birds of the air …

To be or Not to be – a Witness? That is the question

Interestingly, the word for witness in Greek is ‘martyr’. To be a witness of Jesus is to be a martyr, willing to lay one’s life down for Jesus, just as Jesus did for us. To be a disciple of Jesus is not to just COUNT the cost, but PAY it (easier said than done). Can it be said of us that “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) or will Jesus rebuke us saying that “We are a generation of little faith”, often forgetting His promises, “Fear NOT” and “Lo, I am with you ALWAYS – Be my Witness.”

As a witness, we are not only called to be martyrs, but Bridge Builders. We have been given 2 pieces of wood and 3 nails to build the cross ‘The ONLY Bridge’ for man to be able to reach God. We are tasked to build the bridge in the shielded minds of those who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Points(s) to ponder:

  1. Isn’t it time for us to start building the Bridge to God?
  2. Isn’t it time for us to not just count the cost, but be willing to pay it –
    To be or not to be – a witness? That is our question.

Questioning God – Is that Biblical?

Human beings constantly seek to find answers to questions of life that baffle us or for which no “answer” is apparent. God made us ruler over all, only a little lower than heavenly beings (Angels) ( Psalm 8 ) with the distinctive trait of having a quest for knowledge and wisdom. Worthy of note, the first Sin that man committed was as a result of the Man’s desire to quench their thirst of becoming omniscient when the adversary (Satan) enticed Eve (and Adam) by saying “You will be like gods, knowing good and evil”. Furthermore, the Bible also teaches that a lack of knowledge leads to destruction (Hosea 4:6). So it would only be appropriate to say that “Man is an ‘answer-seeking’ being and ‘questions’ the things that the finite mind can’t comprehend.

Yes, we all question; we question situations, events, emotions, sickness and anything and everything that affect our lives or the lives of the ones we love. We question when things go our way and also when they don’t. Many a times, we find ourselves even questioning the omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnipresent (ever-present) God. Questions such as “Why me, Lord?” or “Why not me, Lord?” or “Why do good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people?” As a child, I was told that God does everything for the good of those who love him ( Romans 8 ) and so we should not question God. So does this mean that questioning God when certain events transpire in our lives or in the lives of the ones we love, is unbiblical?

King David was asking – “Why, Lord do you care for mere mortals?” when he exclaimed “What is man that you are mindful of him; the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4). Job, the upright in deep anguish, reproved God (Job 40:2) requesting God to release him of his life (Job 6:8-9) saying I will speak in anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul (Job 7:11). When he made his case and his friends were saying that he must have done something wrong and was reaping the consequences, Job must have felt “Why me, Lord?” as he says “Tell me Lord, what charges you have against me?” (Job 10:2). Let’s look at an example, where when the angel Gabriel gave similar messages, it evoked different ‘questioning’ responses. When the angel Gabriel told Mary of the “virgin birth of Jesus” she responded not in a scoffing manner for she knew that since she was a Virgin, that would be impossible, instead she said “How can this be?” In contrast, notice Zechariah’s skeptical response , “How shall I know this?”, when the same angel told Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist that Elizabeth, his wife (who was well advanced in years) will bear him a son (Luke 1:13). Zechariah was not asking “How will you do this?” but “How can I know you’ll do it?” resulting in him being dumb till his son’s birth.

These biblical references lead me to believe that it is not a matter of right or wrong when we question God and yes it is okay to ask “why” and “how” questions to God. It is the “attitude” in which we question God that makes our questioning acceptable or not. King David questioned with an admiration of the extent of God’s care for inadequate man, Job questioned with an attitude of seeking God’s will. Mary asked in bewilderment, yet in belief that nothing is impossible with the Lord while Zechariah questioned God’s character by asking “How shall I know this?” in other words “Can I take you at your word, Lord?”

So the next time, when you are seeking answers and you feel like questioning God, if at all possible refrain from doing so, taking Him at his word by being still (Psalm 46:10) and considering the wondrous works of the God (Job 37:14) but if the human quest for knowledge gets the better of you, Question God ONLY with the right attitude in your heart. Anything contrary would make us ‘dumb’.

God’s APPETite

Jesus said that his food was to do the will of God, the Father who had sent him and to accomplish His (the Father’s) work (John 4:34). Jesus’ appetite was to seek God’s will and consume it, so that he could be nourished to work out the perfect pleasing will of God, the Father.

If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we should also do the will (not merely aspire or seek to do) the will of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and accomplish His works. 
How can we do this? By fullfilling the commission, that God has given to each one of us.

Ephesians 3:11 reads
vs. 11 – And he gave some APOSTLES and some, PROPHETS, and some, EVANGELISTS, and some, PASTORS and TEACHERS

God’s APPETite is that we are A – Apostles, (or) P – Prophets (or) P – Pastors (or) E – Evangelists (or) T – Teachers.

Point(s) to Ponder:

  1. What does God want you to be for Him?
  2. What work has God given unto you that needs to be accomplished?
  3. Are you satisfying God’s appetite by doing His Will and accomplishing His work?

Luke 12:29-31
vs 29. And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
vs 30. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
vs 31. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.