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:

From sorrow to Joy

September 30, 1986: A lanky and frail in flesh but superbly strong in Spirit man was taken into an operating room in the Christian Medical College, Vellore, for a triple bypass open heart surgery. Even on his way to the operating room, he was recorded to have been cheerful as he was always. He was joking with the doctors telling them that they should not stitch him after the surgery but just sew a zip on him so that they could easily open him should there be a need to in the future, as he was taken to the surgery which nearly took six hours to complete. Following the surgery, the heart that was in his frail body failed. It was a heart that was dedicated to take the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Bondo tribe in Malkangiri, Orissa, as no one else had. It was the heart of the missionary, Dr. R.A.C. Paul. It was a heart that was a heart after God’s own heart. It was the heart of my earthly father, my ‘Appa’.

A few days later, when my brother Ragland Remo Paul and I came to learn of my father’s departure from this present world into the glorious one that is to come, I wailed and cried with deep sorrow in my heart, accepting little to no consolation from my mother, Dr. Iris. G.R. Paul or Dr. Jeyapaul Sitther and his family, the missionary friends who accompanied her. I missed my dad and I was sorrowful.

September 30, 1990: I, an young child was on my knees in the cold floor of the service hall in Public School in Sunabeda, Orissa as the lanky preacher, Dr. R. Stanley who founded Blessing Youth Mission (BYM) was giving a fiery message in which I remember, he was calling out a  checklist of sins. I also remember that I seemed to have a check mark, pretty much against every sin that was on that list. It weighed heavy in me and as I knelt down, tears were streaming from my eyes when I recognized that while I was still a sinner and an enemy of God, God sent His Only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself and died for me to pay the wages of my sins.  Preacher Stanley then proceeded to give the call to Salvation stating that all who put their trust in Jesus will not be ashamed and all who believe in Him [Jesus] will have  their mourning turned in joy for He shall turn their sorrows into joy. In response, I committed my life to the Lordship of Jesus accepting his Grace and Salvation, Trusting and Believing in Him. After praying the prayer of repentance, I remember vividly that I felt elated and joyous when I learned that a byproduct of my confession in faith, snatched me from the clutches of eternal death, where I was heading otherwise. I had been adopted into the family of God, and the Creator God who had made me had now remade me as new creature that could address Him as ‘Abba’ father.

Not until late that evening while traveling back home to Malkangiri from Sunabeda, did it dawn on me that four years earlier, exactly to that day, I had lost my earthly father.

September 30, 1986 was a day of sorrow, robbing me of the joy of being a son to a father, as I had lost my wonderful earthly father, Dr. R.A.C. Paul.
September 30, 1990 was a day of joy, a joy that no man can take away from me, as I had gained the Wonderful heavenly Father, the Great I AM.

Today, many years later since that life changing day, I can confidently state that My God is indeed the Father to the fatherless.
He [Jesus] had turned my day of sorrows into a day of joy (literally).

Jeremiah 31:13 (KJV)
13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

John 16:20,22 (KJV)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

What kind of a father is Jesus?

We all celebrated father’s day 2010 yesterday and I thank God for having granted me the privilege of being an earthly father to Reuben Abishai Paul (RAP). As I reminisced about father’s day, I was reminded of my own biological father, Dr. R.A.C. Paul,  who on the 30th day of September, 1986 passed away from this ephemeral world to enter into an eternal kingdom. And as my heart wandered to wonder about why I was deprived of a father-son relationship, I was promptly reminded from the scripture that God is the father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). Jesus Christ addressed Almighty God as Holy Father (John 17:11) while affirming that He and the Father are One  (John 10:30).

But what kind of a father is Jesus/God?

He is a
Friend of the sinner (Matthew 11:19),
Alpha/the First (Revelation 1:8),
Teacher from God (John 3:2),
Holy (Mark 1:24),
Emmanuel/With us (Matthew 1:23) and a
Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4) on whom we can depend.

And to all who believe and receive Jesus, He gave them the power to be called the sons of God (John 1:12) and because we have received the Spirit of adoption, we can call God, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). Our relationship with God is that of a father-son relationship only because of our Spiritual Father, Jesus Christ; it is by adoption, and not by ancestry.

And as children of God, what kind of father’s do we need to be?
We need to be
1. the friends of those who are lost (who have not believed and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Father);
2. the first (alpha) to pass the baton of faith to our earthly children;
3. the teacher of the fear of the Lord;
4. holy as God the father is Holy;
5. always with and for our children and loved ones; and
6. the rock on which our children and loved ones can depend on.

John 1:12-13 (KJV)
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Brother Jesus

It is only a few days since we celebrated Resurrection Day 2010, and I wonder as to why we don’t celebrate the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, every day of our lives. Jesus conquered death once and for all, for all those who believe in His Name and that is reason enough for everyone that believes in Him to rejoice always, and yes again I say rejoice (Philippians 4:4). And it is today that I also celebrate the birth of my brother, Ragland Remo Paul. He was named ‘Ragland’ by my missionary parents, Dr. R.A.C. Paul and Dr. Iris Grace Rajakumari Paul, in memory of the English missionary, Rev. Thomas G. Ragland (1815-1858), who gave his life serving Jesus on his mission to the people in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, India. My brother’s middle name  ‘Remo’ was given by a lady of the Bondo tribe, to whom my parents had been called and chosen to serve. ‘Remo’ in the Bondo dialect means ‘man’. So ‘Remo’, my brother celebrates his birthday and I thank God for having appointed it so that I would be related to him, who I vividly remember as my friend and protector, while I was growing up, after the death of my earthly missionary father. My other siblings, David Livingston Paul and Mary Smrutha Paul would agree that Remo has also been a provider. But besides, Remo (and David), I want to also remember and celebrate another brother of mine.

John 20 records the appearance of Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to the Mary Magdalene outside the tomb. Many expositors have preached on this, but I am yet to hear of anyone preach on the conversation that ensued between Mary and Jesus. Jesus tells Mary that she is not to cling on to him but to go to his brothers and tell them that he was to ascend to God, our Father and our God (John 20:17). Did you notice the establishment of a new relationship in those words? Jesus escalates his intimacy with His believers. In John 15:15, he called his disciples, not servants but friends, and now from being friends of His, these disciples had turned to be his brothers (and sisters). Who is it that is the brother (or sister or mother) of Christ Jesus? All those who do the will of God, the heavenly Father (Matthew 12:50).

So today, I thank God for my brother Remo, and his life. And I thank God for Jesus who loves me enough to call me His brother! Happy birthday, brother Remo. Thank you, Brother Jesus.

Point(s) to ponder:
Are you/I doing the will of God the heavenly Father so that Jesus can call you/I His brother or sister or mother?

The gift of my mother

Napolean Bonaparte is said to have quoted ‘Let France have good mothers and she will have good sons’ which is often paraphrased into ‘Give me a good mother and I will give you a good nation’. Mothers and grandmothers play a vital role in the upbringing of a child. Lois (grandmother) and Eunice (mother) are credited for rearing Timothy, Paul’s young protege  with unfeigned faith (2 Timothy 1:5). While Napolean was accurate in his estimation on the power and influence, a mother has on her children, the real reason as to why good sons can rise, goes back to a promise that was made by God to his friend Abraham when he promised that Sarah (as her name is to be called) will be blessed of being a mother and kings (rulers of nations) of people shall be of her (Genesis 17:16).

It is my mother, Dr. Iris Paul’s  birthday and as I tried to recollect my childhood days, memories of yore inundated my mind. She used to fast and pray each evening for her children. Before administering medication, she would tell her patients that it is not the medicine that will heal them, but Jesus Christ, the healer of all diseases. She stayed alongside my ailing father till the very end of his life on earth. One statement she said that still rings in my mind was on Easter morning when she expressed that what the pastor had preached that morning was true; that even if the mother’s heart is cut into many pieces, each piece will still yell out, ‘I love my children’. I must admit that I did not understand that saying then as much as I do now, as I see my wife (Sangeetha) be a mother to our son (Reuben).

To be a mother is a reward from God for the mother (Psalm 127:3) but at the same time, for the child, a mother is the means to hear of God, when she acts as a prophet of God (Proverbs 31:1) teaching her children to listen to the voice of God. Many know my mother as a missionary of Jesus Christ, who joined with and continued the work started by my father, Dr. R.A.C Paul,  to people groups inhabiting the remote hills of Orissa in India. She has been the voice of God to many in the villages of Malkangiri and neighboring areas, as she has been to me and my brothers (Ragland Remo, David Livingstone) and sister (Mary Smrutha), both through her words and her life.  And on her birthday, I wish her many more happy returns of this day and pray that she continues to be a voice of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to all lost in this world without the knowledge of Jesus’ redemption and to her own. Happy birthday, Amma. God bless you richly. Thank you Jesus, for the gift of my mother, from whom kings of people shall rise.