Crave and Cry and Burp

As Reuben, our six year old son and I tended to the needs of my beloved wife, Sangeetha, and our two day old son, Ittai Aidan Paul, in the hospital, post delivery, I was observing how Ittai would cry without ceasing with a craving for milk whenever he was hungry and once he was fed, he would be uncomfortable until he was burped. Pondering deeper into such a simple yet natural phenomenon, revealed some deep spiritual insights that we can apply to our Christian walk as well.

Like a baby, we must crave with an unceasing desire for the word of God and not be satisfied till we have had our full until we need to feed on God’s word again (1 Peter 2:2). Jesus himself said, man does not live by bread alone but by every word (not just some words) that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). We must be hungry for the word of God always.  Secondly, when the word of God has been taken into our lives, the unclean things of the world that are trapped in our hearts need to be burped out (James 4:8), for out of the heart comes the wellspring/issues of life (Proverbs 4:23) and Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is for us to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27).

Points to ponder:
We must not be satisfied until filled with the word of God, craving and crying for it unceasingly.
We must burp out of th things of the world that conflict with God’s ordinances found in his word.

1 Peter 2:2 (KJV)
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

James 4:8 (KJV)
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 

Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)
23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Gasp for the Breath of Life

As I sat in the operating room awaiting the birth of our second son, Ittai Aidan Paul, the similarilities of physical and spiritual birth dawned on me.

When a child is born in the physical sense, the baby gasps to take in the first breath of life. We are indeed joyous to hear the cry of the baby that results from the intake of the first breath, as the baby is assured into a new world and in a practical sense a new life.

This is not any different than how it ought to be when it comes to our spiritual birth; when one is born again by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of their soul. When one is born again, in Christ, they are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We must gasp for the breath of life that is found solely in the Holy Spirit of God (John 20:22) and such allegiance could cause us to suffer and cry for his name, but failure to take in that breath of life, who quickens our Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45), has far greater consequences, than mere tears, in this life and the one to come.

Points to ponder:
Have you been breathed upon with the breath of life? Have you received the Holy Spirit of God who comes when you believe in the name of Jesus? (John 20:22; Ephesians 1:13)

John 20:21-22 (KJV)
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Ephesians 1:12-13 (KJV)
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Cut the umbilical cord

As I sat in the operating room awaiting the birth of our second son, Ittai Aidan Paul, the similarilities of physical and spiritual birth dawned on me.

When a child is born in the physical sense, the umbilical cord that was the means of sustenance for the baby while the baby is in the womb needs to be cut once the baby is born.

This is not any different than how it ought to be when it comes to our spiritual birth; when one is born again by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of their soul. When one is born again, in Christ, they are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old means of sustenance that is provided by the world needs to be cut and severed completely. Jesus himself said, that in order to be his disciples, we must forsake (cut) all that we have, take up the cross and follow him (Luke 14:33; Matthew 16:24).

Points to ponder:
Imagine this that as an adult, you still had your umbilical cord attached to your mother. That would be awkward and weird, isn’t it. Why is it then not weird to be tied to the world when we are born again in Christ? Have you/I cut the umbilical cord with the world and all the things that conflict with God? (Titus 2:12)

Titus 2:11-15 (KJV)
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Why not go to the Father?

After I read to our six year old son, Reuben, the story of Isaac’s twins; Esau and Jacob, and how the firstborn of the twins, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob in order to satisfy his hunger, from Genesis 25:29-34), Reuben, inquisitively and innocently asked, “Why did Esau not think about going directly to his Father, if he was hungry?” As usual, dumbfounded by his question and the simple child-like analysis of the story, I responded, “Good question!”. Later it dawned on me that many a times, we are like Esau. We go to our fellow men and are willing to trade our spiritual birthright blessings in Jesus Christ for mere beggarly elements of this world (such as position, power, pride, popularity, pleasures, etc), instead of going to God our Father, who can satisfy all our hunger; both spiritual and physical.

Points to ponder:
Why not go directly to God, our Father, who can give us this day our daily bread (and satisfy all our needs)?

John 6:32 (KJV)
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven

I can’t wait to die … said my son!

After our visit to the churches of various martyrs in old Cairo in Egypt, on our way back to the hotel, our beloved five year old son Reuben, engaged us in conversation, as my loving wife explained to him that some of these Christians chose to deny their life for their faith.

Reuben had a plethora of questions such as,  “What happens after death?”, “Does one become an angel?”, “Can angels appear and disappear on earth at will?”, and many more. Trying to explain the concept of being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) in glorified heavenly bodies to a five year old was a little challenging, but using scriptural texts, my wife and I struggled to quench Reuben’s inquisitiveness. I said, when one dies before the coming of Jesus Christ, at his coming, the dead shall rise and those who are still alive, who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior, will be caught up and transformed (1 Corinthians 15:40-44, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). For simplicity sake, I answered that I am not sure if they will be transformed to angels, but in the glorified bodies, one can say that we would be heavenly beings like angels are. Regarding the appearing and disappearing on earth at will, if God wills, then they can, as was envisioned by Jacob in the dream (Genesis 28), or Joseph (Matthew 1), or Mary (Luke 1), or Daniel (Daniel) who all saw and some even communicated with angels.

Then Reuben asked me, “Dada, if you die, what will happen to you?” to which I responded, “Since I believe in Jesus Christ, I would go to be with Jesus as well, but when I get to meet him, I will request him to make me your angel for the Bible says that the little ones have angels in heaven who behold the face of God the Father (Matthew 18:10). Then Reuben asked, “Is your dad [who went to be with the Lord on September 30, 1986] an angel?” and questioned “What kind of angel is he; is he a warrior angel in Michael’s troops or a messenger angel in Gabriel’s troop?” to which I responded, I don’t know as my wife shared with him the life and sacrifices of his grandfather (Dr. R.A.C. Paul) for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the tribal hills of Orissa, India.

Then suddenly, Reuben said, “I can’t wait to die!” His expression first caught me off-guard and it brought in me a sense of sadness, but I quickly realized that Reuben was expressing in his own words, the very desire of Apostle Paul from Philippians 1:23. His expression taught me that I must also be like Reuben in my attitude of life. We must live with an expectation of being transformed into glorified bodies to be with Christ Jesus.

Renowned minister, Charles Spurgeon is attributed to have said, “There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father’s palace. To the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing from his sins and infirmities. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors. Death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory.

To die as a saint (which comes solely by believing in Jesus Christ), either naturally or as a martyr, is the commencement of glory and as our son sagely put it, I chose to live life, each day, with an expectation of being with Jesus in a glorified state. I can’t wait to die! How about you?

Philippians 1:23 (KJV)
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

King Tutankhamun vs. King Jesus Christ

During our visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, we spent hours looking at the ancient Pharonic antiquities and artifacts on display. One section of the museum is dedicated to housing the varied treasures of the boy king Tutankhamun aka king Tut. King Tut’s artifacts came from his tomb and included over 3500 treasures and affluent items that he supposedly used throughout his life. These artifacts ranged in items made of gold, silver, precious gems, calcite, alabaster, etc., such as golden perfume bottles and amulets, the Wadjet or eye of Horus, canonic chests and shrine, statue of an one horned Oryx, golden scarab necklace, golden buckle depicting a chariot drawn by horses, the gilded throne and statutes, including life-size statues (1 meter 73 cm) of King Tut. Additionally, two of the three sarcophagi in which king Tut was laid to rest as a mummy are on display, with the third outermost (not on display), made of complete gold and weighing 450 kilograms (over 990 pounds), resting today in the Valley of the Kings housing his mummy still. But the highlight of the museum (a must see to all who visit) is king Tut’s funerary mask, which was found placed over the mummified head of the king. It is made of gold and inlaid with precious stones (lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian), weighing 11 kilograms (nearly 25 pounds) and is believed to represent what the king really look like. Suffice it to say, that the king certainly lived an extremely affluent life and an inscription on his tomb door declares the king had “spent his life in fashioning the images of the gods”.

After being flabbergasted by such opulence, my loving wife Sangeetha in levity remarked, “This king must have been a brat (given he was only about 19 when he died), for who in life (or death) really needs such luxuries. Such wealth seems to indicate that the king had subjects who served him and a good king is one who serves his subjects, not the other way round!” To this our beloved five year old son, Reuben questioned, “We must be nice to him, because he is a king, correct?” seeking my support.

Later on, as I pondered over this conversation, it struck me that I personally know of another king, The KING, King Jesus Christ, who in his birth and death was affirmed of his kingship. In his birth, the question was “Where is he who is born THE KING of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2) and even in his death, a promulgation with an inscription on the Titulus, placed over of his head, on the Cross affirmed, that Jesus is King, King of the Jews as it read IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM meaning Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews. (Mathew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). But unlike king Tut, King Jesus Christ, gave up the riches of his glory (Philippians 4:19) to spend his life fashioning the image of his creation, and took the form of a servant in the likeness of man, making himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:6-8). Not only that, King Jesus Christ expressed that as a king, he had not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28) and give his life as a ransom for many, and that my dear friends, makes not only a good King, but a GREAT King. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16) and I will leave you to ponder on the same question that our son asked, “We must be nice to him (Jesus), because he is a KING, correct?

Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 20:28 (NKJV)
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

Revelation 19:16 (KJV)
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS

True meaning of Christmas – You can sacrifice me!

As a family, my beloved wife Sangeetha, cherished son Reuben and I, got to spend 2011 Christmas in Egypt and were blessed to visit the colossal and spellbinding Pyramids of Giza, the magnificent Egyptian museum, the Citadel and its museums, sail the Nile and visit Old Cairo with its beautiful Coptic museum, the Babylon Fortress, the Hanging Church and various churches of early Christian martyrs. During our visit to the Coptic museum, on December 23, 2011, amongst many ancient artifacts, in the Christian painting section of the museum, was an incomplete ancient Coptic painting that depicted the faithful act of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac.

As we were describing the artifacts to our five year old, Reuben, my wife and I explained to Reuben the story of Abraham and his test of faith by God. I told Reuben, “Abraham was a friend of God, but God wanted to test Abraham and see if he loved God more than he loved his son, Isaac, his only son (whom he loved a lot). So God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son as a test. Abraham believed God and passed the test, and God provided a ram to be sacrificed in the place of his son.” Reuben listened to that account, attentively and carefully and after I had finished telling him the account, he inquisitively asked, “Dada, if God asked you to sacrifice me, what would you do?” The question caught me off-guard and succumbed me into an emotional roller coaster, as I pondered as to what life would be without our son; it would break my heart and it would be unbearable, to say the least. So I responded, by saying, “I would plead and cry and ask God to take my life instead of requiring yours; I would sacrifice myself for you. In this matter I would disobey God.” To this, Reuben responded, “Dada, you can say okay to God” and as I was being surprised by his expression, his next statement struck me in awestruck wonder and left me spellbound, for he said “You can sacrifice me, for even if you do, God can raise me up from the dead.” My wife and I were touched at such a simple yet profound faith. To obey is better than sacrifice.

As we waited in the Mar Girgis metro station to board the train to the Sofitel hotel in Gezirah (Opera metro), I realized that the true meaning of Christmas had been implicitly communicated to me, through our beloved son. While we think of Christmas, mostly as the birth of Jesus Christ, on his created earth, and wish one another “Merry Christmas”, I wondered if the conversation in the tribunal in heaven, prior to Jesus’ birth, was similar to the conversation, my son and I had, where Jesus willingly offered to be sacrificed. I wondered if the conversation in heaven was as follows:
Father God: What can I do, for man, our most precious created being, has sinned and fallen short of our glory? (Romans 3:23) What can I do to bring man back to me?
Holy Spirit: The perfect sacrifice, not made of human hands! (Hebrews 9:11-12, Hebrews 10:14)
Father God: Now where can I get the perfect sacrifice, one who is without blemish; sinless and guileless! (1 Peter 2:22)
Holy Spirit: Only in your Only begotten Son! (John 3:16)
Father God: Oh no, that would break my heart and it would be unbearable.
Holy Spirit: But there is no other way – for only Jesus is The Way, and that is The Truth and only in him is The Life! (John 14:6)
God the Son: Father God, You can sacrifice me, for even if you do, you can raise me up from the dead. I willingly offer my life to be the sacrificial lamb of God, for the redemption of mankind. (John 10:16-17)
Father God: I wish there was another way, my beloved son, but since there is none, when the fullness of time comes (Galatians 4:4), you shall be conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, in a manger, in the town of Bethlehem, and be named Jesus, for you shall save our people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
This day shall they call Christmas, in memory of your birth, but in essence, it was the manifestation of your offer to be sacrificed, for you said, “You can sacrifice me!

Points to ponder:
Merry Christmas everyone or should we say, “God, we lay our lives to you as a living sacrifice as did your Son Jesus” and that I have learned from my five year old son, is the true meaning of Christmas.

Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Matthew 1:20-21 (KJV)
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

John 10:15-18 (KJV)
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Give Thanks – Why and For What?

This thanksgiving season, some of us, take time to reminisce on the reasons as to why we ought to be thankful, while many are caught in the flurry of the season with sales-buster shopping, cooking turkeys and partying with friends, all of which, in and of themselves are okay as long as they don’t become the focus of the season. I was wondering today as to the reasons why I should be thankful and also pondering on what I should be thankful for.

The answer to the ‘Why’ question as to the reason that we should be thankful is pretty straightforward according to the Bible. The Bible tells us that in everything (all circumstances of life), we must give thanks for this is the will of God concerning us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It also counsels us, that it is a good thing to sing thanks unto the Lord and sing praises to the name of the Most High God (Psalm 92:1).

But what must we be thankful for?
To answer this question, follow along the conversation, that I had with our beloved 5 year old son, Reuben, last afternoon.
Me: Reuben, what are you thankful for?
Reuben: My family and friends, my toys, my brother (to be born in March 2012), my video games.
Me: Who are you missing?
Reuben: Mama’s mama (Gaagi), Gamma (my mom), Mama’s dada (Gaaga), your dada (my dad)
Me:  Who are you missing that should come first?
Reuben: God
Me: God, who?
Reuben: God, Jesus Christ!
Me: Why should you be thankful to Jesus Christ?
Reuben: Because he made us and he did all those things for us.
Me: What things?
Reuben: He made us from dust; He died for us on the Cross; He rose again for us; and that is all I can think of!

Interestingly, what our son, told and taught me as to “What we should be thankful for?” is very scriptural and Biblical. The Bible tells us we must give thanks at the remembrance of God’s holiness (Psalm 30:4). In other words, a remembrance of God’s holiness and purity, brings to mind our own unholiness and impurity (sinfulness) and highlights that our souls were on its way to the grave, because the sting of sin is death (1 Corinthians 15:56), but God has kept us alive,  so that we should not go down to the pit (Psalm 30:3) and given us victory through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57)

So what must we be thankful for?
We must be thankful for Jesus Christ; for the love of God; a love so great that while we were still sinners, Christ died in our stead to keep us alive and from going down to the pit (hell). We must be thankful because He made us (in his own image) and He died for us and rose again to reign, and that is all we should think of!

Psalm 30:3-4 (KJV)
O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

1 Corinthians 15:56-57 (KJV)
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Psalm 92:1 (KJV)

God of the mighty

While learning the song, Agnus Dei, instead of singing “for the Lord God Almighty reigns”, our beloved 5 year old son, Reuben, kept singing “for the God of the mighty reigns.” My loving wife, Sangeetha attempted to correct him, but while she was doing so, it dawned on me that my son, without realizing was proclaiming another truth from the Holy Bible. God, the Most High is not just the Lord God Almighty, but He is also the God of the mighty.

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word, “mighty” as someone who is possessing “power.” As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we are not just a peculiar people, but we are a powerful people, for God did not give unto us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Just as David, a shepherd boy towered over the mighty trained soldier Goliath, with God in us (not just on our side), we are stronger than the strongest and mightier than the mightiest that the world can raise. We are a mighty people and the Most High, who reigns, is our God. For indeed the Lord God Almighty reigns; For indeed the God of the mighty reigns.

1 John 4:4 (KJV)
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.