Strong Foundation and Quality Materials


Ask any architect and they will tell you that in order for a super-structure to stand the tests of natural weather elements that onslaught the building, it is extremely important that the foundation on which the building stands is well laid, solid and strong. They will also tell you that in spite of the fact that there exists a strong foundation, buildings will succumb to the forces of the natural weather elements if the materials used to build them are not weatherproofed or up to quality standards.

In order for our lives to be able to withstand the tests of the world and its god, our lives must be laid on a solid and strong foundation as well. The good news is that there is a solid and strong foundation, in fact this is the only solid and strong foundation. The greater news is that this foundation is already laid, laid not by man, but by God and this foundation is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). With the foundation laid, the question then is, whether the materials that we use to build our lives on, are up to the quality standards of God?

Are our lives of quality, according to the Spirit of God bearing the fruit of the Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness and Temperance) will stand the test of fire (the Holy Spirit) on the day when we need to give an account for all our actions, thoughts and deeds, because against such there is NO law. (Galatians 5:22-23).

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (KJV)
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

On a lighter side note, check out the video below on how a 2 year old (our loved son – Reuben) learns about the Fruit of the Spirit. Enjoy

 

Handprints


Reuben_HandprintsA king of whose wisdom was so renowned that even Jesus mentions him by name (Matthew 12:42) was King Solomon, the son of David, the king of Israel. Solomon was not only a king, but he was wiser than any other man, an author of 3000 proverbs, composer of 1500 songs, architect, arbitrator, administrator, botanist, zoologist, ornithologist, herpetologist, ichthyologist, philosopher, preacher, and it is this king with so many titles that can be conferred on him, that makes a very interesting statement as he begins his kingship. He exclaims that He is only a little child. (1 Kings 3:7). Hold that thought.

On Mother’s day, this year, our beloved son, Reuben (3 year old), gave my wife, Sangeetha, a precious gift that he had made in school for her. It was his little handprint (click image) with the following words.

Sometimes you get discouraged because I am so small
And always leave my fingerprints on furniture and walls.

But everyday I am growing up and I will be grown up someday,
and all those tiny handprints will surely fade away.

So … Here is a final handprint, just so you can recall,
Exactly how my fingers looked, when I was this small.

A realization of how small we are is critical in our walk with Christ. Jesus himself said, in order for anyone to enter into the kingdom of heaven, he must become (be converted as) a child and added that the one who humbles himself/herself as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus never prevented the little children from coming to him.

I believe it is the honesty in humility that is exuberant in a child that Jesus want us to build in our character toward God and toward man. I believe that it was the honesty of Solomon’s realization that he was only a little child and the sincerity of his recognition as to how humbling it was that God had chosen him was pivotal in God exalting him to be a great king (Whosoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven).

Point(s) to ponder:

Let us realize, that if we leave our handprints on the lives of people around us, let us do so, with a heart of humility, always being cognizant of the fact that we are only little children. If God was to look at the handprints that we leave behind, will He be able to smile (as a Father) and recall how small we have been and are.

1 Kings 3:7 (KJV)
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.

Matthew 18:3-4 (KJV)
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

God’s Mirror


Reuben, my beloved son, when he was about 2 years old, asked Sangeetha, my beloved wife, as to why he cannot see God? That question provoked in us a thought that I felt was interesting. Why cannot we see God?
God made us in His own image (with his attributes and characteristics) and when people see us, they should be seeing God in us. We are not God, but we must be his mirror, a reflection of his glory to those who seek to see God. Reuben should be seeing God in us (his dada and mama). It was a call to attention for us, to try to live in a Christ-like manner, a life of LOVE, GIVING and SACRIFICE, so that he may see God through us.

Paul writes that we must “Be IMITATORS (mirror images) of God” Did you realize that we are indeed God’s Mirror. If people were seeking to see God, do they see God in us?

Point(s) to ponder:
A little girl was once in a quandary. She asked her mother, “Isn’t God big?” and her mom replied, “Yes”. She then asked, “Aren’t we small in comparison to God” and her mom replied “Yes, we are”. Then she expressed a notable truth – “If God is big, and we are small and God lives in us, shouldn’t He show through?” Think about it. Does God show through your life?

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)
1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
2
and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Footprints


Reuben_FootprintsThis Father’s day, as people were wishing each other, Happy Father’s day, my family and friends wished me the same and I wondered to myself. It has been more than two decades since my dad (earthly father), Dr. R.A.C. Paul, passed away. I was only nine years old then. I don’t have an earthly father to call and wish “Happy Father’s day” and as I wondered, I was pleased to realize that I do have  a father, a heavenly Father, THE FATHER, none other than God, Godself. God is the father of the fatherless and the defender of widows. I ended up wishing my heavenly father, “Happy Father’s day, God!”

Also, this year, my beloved son, Reuben (3 year old) gave me a footprint of his (click image) with the following words. He made this in his school for me. As I read the words, tears welled from my eyes as my heart elated in pride for such a wonderful son. As I reminisced on the meaning of the words, I could not help but realize that this should be exactly the words that we ought to be telling God, our Father.

“Walk a little slower Daddy,” said a child so small.
I am following in your footsteps and I don’t want to fall.

Sometimes your steps are very fast, Sometimes they are hard to see;
So walk a little slower, Daddy, For you are leading me.

Someday when I am all grown up, You are what I want to be;
Then I will have a little child, Who will want to follow me.

And I would want to lead just right, And know that I was true;
So walk a little slower, Daddy, For I must follow you.

Point(s) to Ponder:

  1. If God is our Father, will he be able to proudly tell of us, “This is my beloved Son/Daughter, with whom I am well pleased”?
  2. God says, “I will teach you and instruct you in the way that you should go” (Psalm 32:8). The real question is – are we willing to follow his instructions and follow Him.
    Note, what the little child says – I MUST follow you. Can that be said of us, that We MUST (no other option) follow God, our Father?

Psalm 68:5 (KJV)
5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.

Psalm 32:8 (KJV)
8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

7 Habits of highly effective Christians


We have come to the end of the series on the 7 habits of highly effective Christians and I hope that this has been a blessing to you as it has been to me. In a nutshell, the following graphics summarizes all the habits we have discovered so far.

Highly Effective Christian Habits

Let us remember to be the very best at who we arehighly effective – in our Christian life. Let us live in such a manner that people will see our good works and glorify God the Father, who is in heaven.

One simple formula to be a highly effective Christian would be answer the following question in ALL circumstances and decisions we face and that is “What Would Jesus Do?“.

Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV)
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Habit #7 – Renew your mind


Covey’s Habit #7 – Sharpen the Saw
Christian Habit #7
– Renew your mind

Dr. Covey enlists the habit ‘Sharpen the Saw’ as the 7th habit in his series. This habit is about balanced self-renewal and continuous improvement. The Bible commands us that we should not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed. How can we be transformed? By the renewing of our minds.

What does it mean to renew our minds? It means that we ought to ‘think differently
This means that we must

  1. not merely focus but fix our thoughts on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
  2. think in a humble manner, less about ourselves and more about others; Put on the mind of Christ Jesus, who being in the very nature God, did not consider it right to be made equal with God, but humbled himself, even to the point of death, death on the Cross.

Point(s) to ponder:

Have you ever seen a butterfly sit and eat leaves as it did when it was a caterpillar? I have not. The butterfly does not think like a caterpillar. It is a new creation. Likewise, when we accept and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and ought not to think like our former selves.

The Bible counsels us that we ought to graduate from being babies (from milk) to grown ups (to meat).  We need to think and act as adults, not babies. Not just in some things, but in ALL things, we are to grow, just as Jesus did. Jesus grew up in wisdom, in stature and in favor of God and man. To be a highly effective Christian, we need to grow lest we remain spiritual dwarfs, a spectacle for the world to be amused about. Our transformation (metamorphosis) should be accompanied by growth and this begins by the renewal of our mind.

Ephesians 4:11-15,22-24 (KJV)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

22
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Habit #6 – Partner with God and his people


Covey’s Habit #6 – Synergize
Christian Habit #6 – Partner with God and his people

Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word ‘Synergy’ is “a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts)”. The etymology of the word ‘Synergy’ is from Greek ‘Sunergos’ or ‘Synergos’ which means “Working together“.

During my school years, I used to participate in track and field events and was a sprinter, clocking time in the 100 meters or 200 meters dash. I could never run long distant races and even 400 meters was a stretch. However, my friends, Cecil and Vidyuth were excellent long distant runners and they participated in the 400 meters and 800 meters events. What was interesting is that both Cecil and Vidyuth would run in the same race when we competed against other schools. The idea was that Cecil would run as fast as he could, once the gun shot was fired. Looking at Cecil go, the other runners (from other schools) would try to keep up with him and expend their energy fast, while Vidyuth would start slow and when the others started to tire, Vidyuth would overtake all the others (including Cecil) and will win the gold, by running fast toward the end of the race. This is known as the ‘Pacemaker’ tactics in long distant races. Cecil will be the pacemaker for Vidyuth. Although Cecil did not win the race, he worked together (companion in labor) with Vidyuth so that our school would win the gold. The end outcome was that our school won the ‘Gold’ medal.

Jesus sent his twelve disciples two by two (Mark 6:7).  The Apostle Paul commends Ephraphroditus for being a companion in labor. Not much is known of Ephaphroditus in contrast to Paul. Nevertheless he was instrumental in God’s work as a companion of Paul, even unto death (Philippians 2:25-30). The speaker before the assembly (ekklesia) records that “Two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). The speaker also records that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12). It is imperative to recognize that the partnership should not be unequally yoked. The principle of creative cooperation applies aptly to highly effective christians.

Together we can achieve greater things. I am reminded of a story, I once heard, of a horse competition in which the strongest horse that was awarded the winning prize was able to pull 5000 pounds and the horse that came second in that competition could pull 4000 pounds. Out of curiosity, the organizers of the competition yoked the horses together expecting them to be able to pull 9000 pounds. To their surprise, the horses were able to pull nearly a staggering 12000 pounds, exponentially more than they could individually.

Point(s) to ponder:

To be a highly efffective Christian, we must seek to partner with God and his people. Identify who you can partner with! Identify for whom you can be a pacemaker! We must seek companions in labor. We must be willing to work together.  The operative word in the definition is “mutual“. The companionship should be mutually advantageous so that the goal (outcome) can be achieved. We must synergize by partnering with God and his people. You + Your companion + God make the three strands in cord and that is not easily broken, and together as companions in labor, you can achieve exponentially more than what you otherwise would individually.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (KJV)
9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Mark 6:7 (KJV)
7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;


Habit #5 – Listen First, Speak Next


Covey’s Habit #5 – Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood
Christian Habit #5 – Listen First, Speak Next

Dr. Covey lists “Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood” as the fifth habit of highly effective people. Likewise as we continue the series on the 7 habits of Highly Effective Christians, the fifth habit is to “Listen First, Speak Next”.

Most of us like to be heard and we pay little attention to what others are saying. We always try to have the final word. We like others to see how eloquent and wise we are. We seldom take time to be quite and listen to the other person. Some of us even complete other people’s statements as we suffer from what I call the “Me, Myself and I” syndrome. Before I point fingers at anyone, I must admit that I am personally guilty of all of the above. It is a struggle for me to be quite when someone is talking. I like to talk and rarely listen. But I have been learning some invaluable truths as the Holy Spirit is teaching me through God’s word.

James counsels us that the tongue needs to be tamed (James 3:2-6). The psalmist tells us that we ought to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). We are told to not be rash with our mouth, and let not our heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and we upon earth: therefore let our words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Additionally, those in business settings may already know this – “Silence is a powerful weapon when negotiating”. Next time you are in a meeting negotiating, keep silent and see how much power shifts toward you.

We are also told that there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7) and when we speak, let us ensure that whatever we speak imparts grace and edifies the hearer (Ephesians 4:29). The words we speak must be in an apt manner (at the right time), carefully chosen (with the right words), with a humble and meek heart (right attitude) as apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11).

Point(s) to ponder:

Ever wonder why we are designed by God to have two ears and one mouth. We must listen twice as much as we speak. But we need not always use words to speak. Remember when Jesus was asked of his opinions to condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery, he spoke volumes without saying a single word.

To be a highly effective Christian, we must seek first to understand and then to be understood. We can do this by listening first and speaking next (with or without words).

Ecclesiastes 5:2 (KJV)
2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Ephesians 4:29 (KJV)
29
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

What is the GOSPEL?


The gospel comes from God (Galatians 1:10-12) and it is the POWER OF GOD for salvation (Romans 1:16).
It is a MYSTERY (Ephesians 6:19) that can be demystified only by God and is a source of HOPE (Colossians 1:23), FAITH (Acts 15:7), PEACE (Ephesians 6:15) and LIFE (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Condition:
Perplexed, Hopeless, Faithless, Unrest, and Down in Life
Prescription (Rx):
The GOSPEL

In a nutshell, it is the MYSTERIOUS POWER OF GOD for HOPE, enabling us to live an ABUNDANT LIFE of FAITH (more than the eye can see), having a PEACE that passeth all understanding. Try it!

Habit #4 – Be of one accord


Covey’s Habit #4 – Think Win/Win
Christian Habit #4 – Be of one accord

National Geographic records “Caught on Safari: Battle at Kruger” to be the most amazing nature video ever seen, and I have to agree. When I first saw this video which is about an amazing array of animals fighting for survival in a South African waterhole,  I was struck with bewilderment and almost speechless. I asked my wife, Sangeetha to watch it with me, and we went through a roller coaster of emotions that can only be experienced, not explained. I’d hate to spoil the surprise for you, but for the purposes of this article, I will succinctly relay that the video goes on as follows – water buffaloes are taking a stroll, some lazing lions spot an opportunity, the lions give chase, the lions get a hold of a calf, the calf falls into the nearby waterhole with the lions hanging on, a crocodile tries to seize an opportunity, the lions emerge victorious, but wait, the water buffaloes return, now the battle ensues between the lions and the buffaloes and then … you got to see the video. It is 8 minutes long, but well worth every second.

It amazed me to see how the water buffaloes united together and would not let their young behind. The unity in them was unbelievable to say the least and with such an unity, they could take down a natural foe that usually takes them down when they are singled out. You must have heard of the saying, “United we stand, Divided we fall”. This is exactly how it is in our Christian lives as well. When we are alone, we tend to fall prey to the devil (a roaring lion), or sink to the world’s attractions and vices (like the crocodile that tries to drown its prey). But when we are united together as one, in one accord, with God and his people, there is nothing that can really stop us and the impossible becomes a norm, rather than an exception. The POWER OF UNITY is Unstoppable. Notice what God testifies about the power of Unity in Genesis 11 which records the story of the Tower of Babel. God says that because man is united in one language, one mind (one accord), there is nothing that can restrain man and anything imagined by man can be accomplished. What a powerful statement that is about unity.

Apologist Ravi Zacharias once said – When cupidity (selfishness) and self-aggrandizement is the motive, unity can be absolutely devastating. Hell does not know the fury compared to what a group of proud men and women, united in evil can finally accomplish and after all, hell then shows what really is the outworking of people trying to build a name for themselves, united in one communication.

If I may use his statement, but turn that over 180 degrees, it would state that
When selflessness and humility is the motive, unity can be absolutely reassuring. Heaven does not know the serenity compared to what a group of humble men and women, united in good can finally accomplish and after all, Heaven then shows what really is the outworking of people trying to build a name for God, united in one communication.

Point(s) to ponder:

To be a highly effective Christian, we need to be one accord (like the water buffaloes), united in mind and spirit, standing together, hand in hand with one another, and no power (lions or crocodiles) in heaven or earth, can stop us from being the Ambassadors for Jesus Christ that God wants us to be. Being united with God and his people in one accord will always result in a win/win outcome.

Acts 1:14 (KJV)
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, …