Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’


Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), American author, critic, editor and poet, is well known for his short stories in the mystery and macabre genre. One of the poems that he is well known for is ‘The Raven’, first published in 1845, four years before his death in the Evening Mirror. The Raven is a poem about the a mysterious raven that visits a man who has just lost the love of his life, a lady name Lenore and for each question, he poses, the answer that the raven gives is “Nevermore” (meaning never again). Poe refers to the raven as an ominous bird of yore. Now, I must admit that I enjoyed reading the poem, despite its melancholy tone and sense of hopelessness undertone, because of its literary composition as a trochaic octameter (8 trochaic feet per line, with alternating stressed and unstressed syllables) and especially because of its references to Biblical words (Seraphim, Balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22), and Aidenn (for Eden i.e., Paradise). However, I would be careful to not call one of God’s creation, ominous, for after God created the fowls of the air (the raven being one of them), he called it good (Genesis 1:21) and it was ravens that brought food to God’s servant, Elijah, to sustain him by the Cherith brook, before the Jordan river (1 Kings 17:1-6).

So there is something we can learn from the raven, as we can from any of the animals mentioned in the Bible.

The Raven was the first creature, after the flood of Noah, to be sent on a mission, most likely for the same reason, he sends out a dove subsequently in a weeks time, which is to determine the readiness of the earth for the inhabitants of the ark. However, the Bible records that the raven flew  to and fro (vacillating) until the waters were dried up from the earth, meaning that it did not return back to Noah. Though, the Bible does not explicitly state the reason for this behavior of the raven that was sent from the ark of Noah, the most plausible explanation is that the raven, an unclean bird (Leviticus 11:15), would have settled to gorge on the dead flesh from the flood, satisfying its appetite, possibly settling on the mountain tops that were seen (Genesis 8:5), instead of fulfilling its mission and returning to Noah. It was to “nevermore” (never again) return to Noah.

Points to ponder:
They that are after the flesh (like the raven that Noah sent out) do mind (commune with) the things of the flesh, which is death, but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit, which is life and peace (Romans 8:5-6). Let us not be like that of the raven, vacillating, nevermore!

Genesis 8:5-7 (KJV)
5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.

Romans 8:5-6 (KJV)
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

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Our life you touch


Reuben Abishai PaulAmerica celebrates the third Monday of January, each year, as Martin Luther King, Jr. day, to remember the man who fought for the equality of all men, irrespective of race, touching the lives of many. And today, besides celebrating the birth of this great man, we celebrate the birth of another … our firstborn child, Reuben Abishai Paul, who turned eight. Words failed me as I intended to express my gratitude to God for such a child as this, by whom we (Sangeetha and I and Ittai) are so very blessed  … all I could pen were a few words, as follows …

We love you lots and wish you much
You are so special for all the lives you touch

Today marks a special day;
and for God’s choicest blessings, we pray
on you, our beloved firstborn
who like a beacon of hope arrived, when we were forlorn

The moment we held you in our arms,
we were reinforced of a Great God, full of charms.
An angel from God, to us, you came as a gift
and only Christ’s Name alone, we pray, you lift.

A little of Picasso, Beethoven, Phelps, and Gretzky,
even Comăneci and Bruce Lee, in you we see;
For as an artist, a musician, a swimmer, a hockey player, 
a gymnast and a Shaolin Do Blackbelt, you are a rising star
But most of all, we cherish you for the 
Theophilus, a loving brother, and beloved son, that you are.

We love you lots and wish you much
You are so very special, for our life you touch.

God bless you Reuben … Have a blessed birthday!
Mama and Dada and Ittai

Points to ponder:
People touch our lives in one way or another, like Martin Luther King, Jr., and our beloved Son, but the most important touch in your life is the touch of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5). Have you been touched by the Lord, the touch that transforms death to life?

2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 (KJV)
3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Make me strong


Jesus, my LORD, my God, as the new year dawns,
my earnest prayer is that you make me strong,
for through you, I can do all things
and to this promised word, I cling, my King.

Give me a new heart that is after your very own
One that will be faithful to the end, and never you disown.
Put in me, your Holy Spirit who renews
so that through my life and my lips, I will not your name misuse.

Help me to endure all trials and temptations
and through them not forget to fear you and love you by keeping your commandments
for in it, is my whole duty; my life’s summation
that I may receive the crown of life, at the coronation.

Every word of yours is pure, and I put my trust in you, so be my shield
as I sow you, Saving SEED, in this perverse and faithless field
that find your gift of Grace and Love offensive, who refuse to yield
to your Sovereignty and futilely their idiocy against you wield.

Let me not have my eyes on the perishable things below
but let me seek and set my affection on the things that are above.
Let me die to sin and self, since I am risen with you
being your appointed watchman, on the streets, the pulpit and the pew.

As the god of this world and the world brings me distractions,
let me never lose focus and always exercise my faith in you only with action.
So that with you and your people, all my interactions
will bring God the glory and you total satisfaction.

Jesus, my LORD, my Savior, as the new year dawns
my earnest prayer is that you make me strong
for ONLY through you, I can do all things
and to this promised word, I cling, my King.

From the Author’s/Poet’s Desk: 
As we arrived at the beginning of a new year, reminiscing on the year gone past and looking forward to the year ahead,this poem is requisition of our hearts, that in the coming year, my family (Sangeetha, Reuben, Ittai and me), are in STRONG through Christ Jesus.During the watchnight service on December 31st, at the Austin Christian Fellowship of India (ACFI), my wife, Reuben I picked promise cards for each one in the family and the cards we picked were as follows:

For Mano: If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
For Sangeetha: Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. (Proverbs 30:5)
For Reuben: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
For Ittai: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  (Ezekiel 36:26)

This poem references those promises so that it can remind us of God’s promise to each one of us personally. Additionally, by way of voting (poll), the theme that was picked for the ACFI church was “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” taken from Philippians 4:13, which is also referenced in the poem as a reminder.

It is written with pronouns such as ‘I’, and ‘me’ to make it personal to the reader. I reckon you substitute your name or your family’s wherever appropriate to personalize this poem for yourself and be edified.

An explanation of the poem in square brackets has been given below. There are some sections of the poem that may need further explanation, and if you need any clarifications or have comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. God bless.

Jesus, my LORD, my God, as the new year dawns,
[Jesus is my personal LORD and God – January 1st, 2013]
my earnest prayer is that you make me strong,
for through you, I can do all things
and to this promised word, I cling, my King.
[Philippians 4:13; Not only is Jesus my LORD and my God, but my King as well]

Give me a new heart that is after your very own
[Ittai’s promise card  – Ezekiel 36:26]
One that will be faithful to the end, and never you disown.
[Matthew 24:13]
Put in me, your Holy Spirit who renews
[Ittai’s promise card – Ezekiel 36:26]
so that through my life and my lips, I will not your name misuse.
[Titus 1:16]

Help me to endure all trials and temptations
[Reuben’s promise card – James 1:12]
and through them not forget to fear you and love you by keeping your commandments
for in it, is my whole duty; my life’s summation
[Ecclesiastes 12:13; John 14:15 – If we love Jesus, we will keep his commandments]
that I may receive the crown of life, at the coronation.
[Reuben’s promise card – James 1:12]

Every word of yours is pure, and I put my trust in you, so be my shield
[Sangeetha’s promise card – Proverbs 30:5]

as I sow you, Saving SEED, in this perverse and faithless field
[Matthew 1:21; Genesis 3:15; Luke 9:41; John 16:9]

that find your gift of Grace and Love offensive, who refuse to yield
[John 6:61]

to your Sovereignty and futilely their idiocy against you wield.
[Romans 1:21; Acts 26:14]

Let me not have my eyes on the perishable things below
but let me seek and set my affection on the things that are above.
[Mano’s promise card – Colossians 3:1-2]
Let me die to sin and self, since I am risen with you
being your appointed watchman, on the streets, the pulpit and the pew.
[Ezekiel 3:16-22; The Song of Solomon 3:3; Isaiah 26:1; Nehemiah 7:3]

As the god of this world and the world brings me distractions,
[2 Corinthians 4:4; James 4:4]

let me never lose focus and always exercise my faith in you only with action.
[Hebrews 12:1-2; James 2:17]

So that with you and your people, all my interactions
will bring God the glory and you total satisfaction.
[Matthew 22:37-40; Matthew 5:16]

Jesus, my LORD, my Savior, as the new year dawns
[Jesus my LORD, my God and my SALVATION]

my earnest prayer is that you make me strong
for ONLY through you, I can do all things
[Not by might, not by power, But By Jesus Christ and only by His Spirit in me]

and to this promised word, I cling, my King.
[Jesus, the KING OF KINGS – my King]

The best gift that I can give my love


As my wife’s birthday approached
anxiety, my heart, encroached
for I wondered, as to the gift that would aptly my love, display
to make her birthday, a very special day.

To be the ideal husband, I desired
and many a search engines, I inquired.
Their suggestions, I felt, fell short
for jewelry and gadgets are ephemeral, not heart!

And then I realized that, I ought not to be husband ‘ideal’
but a ‘loving’ one, for that is what is real.
Rather than buy something to fulfill a duty,
I ought to give her something that truly adores her beauty.

You can give without loving
but you cannot love without giving;
So what can I give that shows my love
and reflect the love of my God above?

God demonstrated his love by giving us his Son
who loved us so greatly that he gave us his life
And in like manner, to give my time, my all and my life
is the best gift that I can give my dear wife.

To give myself sacrificially even when it hurts
is what I earnestly pray, lest I revert
to the selfish and self-centered man, I tend to be
and forget that as one in Christ, it is not just me, but He, she and me.

And now each time as my wife celebrates her birthday
I know that to give my time, my all, my life is the best way
and the best gift to aptly my love, display
and make her feel loved, on that very special day.

John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

Proverbs 5:18 (KJV)
18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Constant Communion


O Lord, it is the first of the year
And this, my earnest request, I pray thee hear
That with you, ‘I have Constant Communion
For fruitless will I be, without that union.’

‘Behold, I come quickly’, came your word
And in me, your Holy Spirit stirred
And on this impending Truth, I gird
So please show me each moment, my prayer you heard.

In my family that loves you, I see
That your favor is life for life, and not momentary
And in all of the issues that life deals
We can hold fast, for with your stripes we are healed.

No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, you promise.
And on this, help me have the faith of the centurion, not Thomas.
And in the coming year, anticipating your return, our lively hope
Help me to lean on you at all times, when atop mountains, in valley depth or any slope.

Fixing my eyes on Jesus, let me march into battle
Bridle my tongue, lest I dishonor you by my prattle
In your presence, let my words be few
So I may experience your faithfulness and mercy, each day anew.

O Lord, it is the first of the year
And this my earnest request, I pray thee hear
This one thing, I desire and seek
To love you and be loved by you, I plead.


From the Author’s/Poet’s Desk:
As we arrived at the beginning of a new year, reminiscing on the year gone past and looking forward to the year ahead, this poem is requisition of our hearts, that in the coming year, my family (Sangeetha, Reuben and the one, soon to be born), and I are in CONSTANT COMMUNION with God.

During the watchnight service on December 31st, at the Austin Christian Fellowship of India (ACFI), my wife and I picked promise cards for each one in the family and the cards we picked were as follows:
For Mano: … in his favor is life (Psalm 30:5)
For Sangeetha: … with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)
For Reuben: No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper … (Isaiah 54:17)
For our son (to be born): Blessed be God, … for he has begotten us into a lively hope … (1 Peter 1:3)
This poem references those promises so that it can remind us of God’s promise to each one of us personally. Additionally, by way of voting (poll), the theme that was picked for the ACFI church was “Be Ye Ready for Jesus Christ” taken from Revelation 22:12, which is also referenced in the poem as a reminder.

It is written with pronouns such as ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘we’ to make it personal to the reader. I reckon you substitute your name or your family’s wherever appropriate to personalize this poem for yourself and be edified.

An explanation of the poem in square brackets has been given below. There are some sections of the poem that may need further explanation, and if you need any clarifications or have comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. Your comments and thoughts are most welcome. God bless.

O Lord, it is the first of the year
[January 1, 2012]

And this, my earnest request, I pray thee hear
[Incline thy ear unto me; Psalm 102:2]

That with me, ‘I have Constant Communion
[My new year’s request to Abide in Christ; John 15:5-8]

For fruitless will I be, without that union.’
[For without Christ, I can do nothing; John 15:5]

‘Behold, I come quickly’, came your word
[Revelation 22:12]

And in me, your Holy Spirit stirred
And on this impending Truth, I gird
[The return of the Lord to reign is not only impending but inevitable; 2 Peter 3:9]

So please show me each moment, my prayer you heard.

In my family that loves you, I see
[In Sangeetha, my wife (a favor from the Lord), I see God’s love and forgiveness and my Son, Reuben, reminds me of God’s unconditional presence, provision and protection as a father to me; Proverbs 18:22]

That your favor is life for life, and not momentary
[My promise card – Psalm 30:5]

And in all of the issues that life deals
We can hold fast, for with your stripes we are healed.
[Sangeetha’s promise card – Isaiah 53:5]

‘No weapon formed against thee shall prosper’, you promise
[Reuben’s promise card – Isaiah 54:17]

And on this, help me have the faith of the centurion, not Thomas.
[Prayer for a faith that marvels Christ and not be one who doubts his word; Hebrews 11:1, Luke 7:9, John 20:29]

And in the coming year, anticipating your return, our lively hope
[Reference back to Revelation 22:12 and the promise card that was picked for our son, who is to be born; 1 Peter 1:3]

Help me to lean on you at all times, when atop mountains, in valley depth or any slope.
[Trust in the Lord at all times and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5]

Fixing my eyes on Jesus, let me march into battle
[Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 6:10-18]

Bridle my tongue, lest I dishonor you by my prattle
[James 3:1-10]

In your presence, let my words be few
[Ecclesiastes 5:2]

So I may experience your faithfulness and mercy, each day anew.
[Great is his faithfulness and his mercies are new every morning; Lamentations 3:22-23]

O Lord, it is the first of the year
And this my earnest request, I pray thee hear
This one thing, I desire and seek
[Beholding God’s beauty, until we see him face to face upon his return; Psalm 27:4]
To love you and be loved by you, I plead.
[To love God and to be loved by Him is what makes CONSTANT COMMUNION with him possible, for if we love him with all of our heart, all our of soul, all of our mind, all of our strength; we will obey him and keep his commandments and we will abide in him and be fruitful as he expects us to be; John 14:15, John 15:7-8]

Memorial day in Jesus’ words


Moina Michael, U.S Professor and humanitarian, commonly known as the Poppy Lady, writes in her renowned poem, “We shall keep the faith”, that the blood of heroes never dies.

Before Jesus was crucified, he met with his disciples in communion (at what is known familiarly as the event of the Last Supper) and told them to remember.

His words were to remember as one partakes of the communion, but what are we to remember?
We ought to remember that the wrath of God was poured on Jesus, so that the GRACE of God could be poured on us.
We ought to remember that, Jesus was forsaken so that we could be adopted.
We ought to remember that because Jesus willingly gave up his communion with God, we can now have communion with God.
We ought to remember that Jesus’ body was broken and his blood was shed, so that ours would not have to be.
We ought to remember that Jesus died (for our sake), so that we can live and live abundantly (under His Lordship).

We must keep the faith for His Blood which brings the remission of sins, covers and washes all unrighteousness. The Blood of Jesus Christ, The HERO never dies.

Points to ponder:
This Memorial day, are you and I honoring Him by remembering Him?
Can it be told of you and me, “He/She shall keep the faith”?

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (KJV)
23
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

A decade of LOVE of and in my life


Ten years have passed, to this day, since Sangeetha and I made a covenant before God and man, to become one flesh. We were married by Pastor Steve Hanchett in Berry Road Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma on May 12, 2001. The following poem resulted as I reminisced on this decade past, and wondered about what I could say of these ten short years.

A decade of my life
now shared with Sangeetha, my wife
has not been without defect,
but certainly perfect
because Jesus Christ our Lord,
has been the third-fold in the cord,
showering GRACE and Love
abundantly from heaven above!

Flipping through my life’s bookshelf
blessed and rich I find myself
for ten years have passed
wherein love has been amassed.
I pray as many more is forecast
our life to Christ Jesus, we cast
to love each other and to love God
as ten more together, we hope to trod.

Song of Solomon 7:10 (KJV)
10 I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth;
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails: