Anywhere but here!!!!

There is one major blunder  ‘Christians’ commit over and over again – that is, they believe God is with them at all times ( which is very true) and hence they always take the ‘go forward’ approach when placed in a crisis situation. They do not inquire of the Lord who is always with them.  Like I mentioned earlier – major blunder.

Let us consider Exodus 14, where Moses and the Israelites are in a ‘nowhere to go’ situation. They are now at a juncture where the Pharaoh’s army is right behind them and in the front roars the mighty red sea. Israel, if they chose to turn around, would have to confront the army of the Pharaoh; and if they chose to move forward, had to face the red sea.

If you feel that you are in such a situation, what do you do????

First thing that can be done – look for the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that the Lord has places to protect you. Israel literally had these elements guarding them by day and by night. In your situation, they may be people, circumstances etc. This will strengthen you and help you take courage for what is to happen in the future (may be even foreseeable future).

The second thing is – Exodus 14:13 “…Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD….”  . This is what Israel was asked to do. The only thing Israel was asked to do – stand still. Which means do nothing…just stand and see the deliverance that GOD will provide you. And the result of that was; the Lord opened up the red sea and Israel passed right through it. The sea did not swallow them, the army could not reach them… underneath them was the Lord’s everlasting arm….

Lesson learnt 1: Hand over the problem to God and stand still.

Let us consider another situation, II Samuel 5: 18-25

Here the Philistines have spread themselves on the valley of Rephaim and David inquires of the Lord.  “Shall I go up to the Philistines? Wilt thou deliver them into mine hand?”. The wise king inquired and God assured that He will doubtless deliver them into his hands.  This was the first instance – a clear ‘go ahead’ signal.

However, in the second instance, v22 the Philistines have spread themselves on the valley of Rephaim again. Now David did not take God’s first assurance for granted. Thus, he inquired of the Lord yet again, though the situation was exactly the same. And this time, the Lord had a different strategy in mind – it was not the go ahead strategy, instead it was ‘go around behind them and come upon them over opposite the mulberry trees’. This was a major change in battle plan that the Lord had in store for Israel and it came to pass only because David inquired of the Lord in every instance.

One may be going through a problem that is repetitive, each time do not expect a ‘go ahead, I am with you’ answer from God. He may have other deliverance plan for you. Inquire of the Lord each time you are faced with the recurring issue.

Lesson Learnt 2: Inquire of the Lord in every situation.

May the name of the Lord be glorified!!!

Fanny Crosby – The blind hymn writer

I recently heard Pastor John Hagee narrate the inspiration behind the hymn ‘Pass me not O gentle Savior’, it was then I decided to dedicate a post to the hymn writer – Fanny Crosby. One may or may not have heard of this blind hymn writer who continues to send out waves in Christian ministry even years after her death.  So, here is the story of this woman of substance whose hymns continue to bring the lost to Christ.

Early years

Born to John and Mercy Crosby on 24 March 1820 in NY State, Fanny was christened as Frances Jane Crosby. Her parents were peasants and were working hard to scratch out a modest living. When Fanny was six weeks old she contracted an infection that resulted in inflammation of both her eyes. Her parents sought medical help from a person who turned out to be a quack. The impostor applied crude medication on to the eyes of the infant that completely burnt her corneas leaving her blind for life. Despite this unforeseen tragedy, Fanny’s parents loved her and cared for her as any parent would.

The trail of tragedy didn’t stop with the loss of Fanny’s eyes. The same year, John Crosby, Fanny’s father succumbed to a fight with death and moved on to his eternal home, leaving his wife as a widow at a tender age of 21. Mercy now had to take care of herself and her blind daughter. She hired herself out as a maidservant of a wealthy family and asked her mother Eunice to take care of Fanny while she was away.

Fanny spent the first five years of her life under the watchful eyes of her grandmother who refused to allow Fanny to live like a helpless invalid blind person. She being a Godly women, taught her blind granddaughter all that could be taught – God, colors, birds, trees, flowers and much more. God had blessed her with phenomenal memory.

After moving in with her mother, Eunice continued to visit her dear granddaughter couple of times a week. During her visits, she helped Fanny memorize portions from the Bible. 

Later on, Mercy moved to Connecticut due to which Eunice could not visit them often. But Mercy’s new landlady was kind enough to help Fanny memorize various books in the Bible. Fanny had to drop out of school (regular) as teachers did not know to teach a visually handicapped child. Her grandmother always tried to console and encourage her. But the death of Eunice left Fanny alone and inconsolable. She shifted all her focus towards penning down her feelings, slowing unleashing the poetic maestro within her.

Saving grace

Till 1850, Fanny wrote secular poems. She even released a book ‘The blind girl’ which made her very popular. But in that very year she received Jesus Christ to be her personal savior and master. She became a new creature in Christ.

In the year 1855, Fanny tied the knot with Alexander Van Alestyne who was also blind. He composed music for his wife’s hymns. In the year 1859, Fanny was blessed with a baby girl. But the joy was short-lived as the child died in infancy. This is probably the reason for the couple to drift apart. Though they lived apart, the news of Alexander’s death left her heartbroken. These tragedies were her inspiration for the song – ‘Safe in the arms of Jesus’.

Vintage years

Fanny along with speaker D.L Moody and singer Ira Sankey started a revival wave in America. She composed poetry for all sections of the society and never demanded extra money for the wonderful hymns she was writing. Her main aim was to draw lost souls to the savior by means of her songs. When her hymn ‘Pass me not O gentle Savior’ was sung at a prison meeting, 14 prisoners surrendered their life to Christ. Despite all the fame and adulation, she remained humble and simple.

Fanny wrote around 10000 hymns and several thousand poems. Sadly, several of her writings remain unpublished. Some of her hymns that were not popular initially until Dr. Billy Graham popularized them in 1950 include:

  • To God be the glory
  • All the way my Savior leads me
  • Yes there is pardon for you

At eighty, Fanny agreed to live with her sister. Even in her nineties, she insisted on washing her own dishes while staying with her niece.

In 1911, she travelled alone to New York and on seeing her bent and wasted frame someone offered her a wheel chair. Instead of thanking the person, Fanny rebuked him and said that she could stand on her own two feet as her strength was in the Lord.

In Aug 1914, Fanny had a mild heart attack. This did not dishearten Fanny instead she welcomed her approaching end with joy. It was then she wrote the swan song – ‘At the evening it will be light’. She began making preparations for her death and burial. On the night of 12 Feb, 1915, Fanny got up and walked but fainted. She was carried to her bed. The doctor was summoned by her host only to declare her dead. Fanny had one of the largest funerals at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridge Port.

I will end this post with the list of Fanny’s songs that have been an inspiration in my life:

  • To God be the glory
  • Pass me not O gentle Savior
  • Blessed assurance
  • Sweet hour of prayer
  • Safe in the arms of Jesus

(Source: Web, ,Fanny Crosby by O.A Koshy)

Mary did you know !!!! – Awesome song…

Always wanted to share this song. Its my fav.

Lyrics:

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?

The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Brother – Ricky

I thought of him this morning

I thought of him.

Of the boy who visited me the day I was born

Of his silence, chubbiness and the depth of his eyes

I thought of him today.

 

I was chatty, he was quiet

I was bossy, he bore all plight

Despite my torment he loved me dear

He protected me, defended me and wiped away all my tears

I thought of him today.

 

He held my hand and took me to Sunday School

He quietly sat beside me while I chattered with the group

They mocked him, looked down at him and inquired his grades

He said nothing but his teary eyes said all that could be said

I thought of him today.

 

We grew up and perhaps drifted apart

But he loved, cherished and held me close to his heart

He got me puffs and music he thought I would like

And said “My sister will accomplish all that I could not”!

I thought of him today.

 

He has left us and has now flown to a place with no tears

No one can mock him or look down at him this year

But he has left behind his little Christina to love

A replica of her father she is and she will fulfill all his vows

I thought of him today.

 

I resolve not to think of him or shed a tear in his name

Cos’ he is comforted and treasured in the place that he is in

I instead will pray and preserve my thoughts for his Christina

Will love her, indulge her and bless her with all my heart.

 

I thought of her today and will think of her tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murder most foul – Cain and Abel

Read – Genesis 4

The story of Cain and Abel is one of the most popular Bible stories. Both Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and his wife Eve. The story of these brothers is based on a few events which are required to be mentioned to set context.

Context Setting:

  • Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit and thus, sinned in the sight of God
  • God made coats of skin to cloth the man and his wife (before which they were unclothed and yet felt no shame – they had no knowledge of good and evil till they ate the forbidden fruit)
  • Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden that was in east of Eden

Assumptions:

  • Though there is no record of sacrifice mentioned  in the Bible till then, the first family must have received oral instruction about it
  • This may not have been the first sacrifice offered

Story:

After being driven from Eden, Adam and Eve were blessed with 2 sons viz., Cain and Abel. Both the brothers pursued vocations different from that of the other. Cain was the tiller of ground farmer and Abel was a keeper of sheep –Shepherd.

Abel probably provided the family with clothing and also animals for sacrifices. Whereas Cain would have worked hard (by virtue of the curse the ground received after the first sin) to provide the family with grain (food).

Both the brothers brought their respective offerings to the Lord – Abel, a blood offering and Cain, a grain offering. But the Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not that of Cain. Why?

Many say that Abel offered a blood sacrifice and Cain did not, hence, the latter’s sacrifice was not acceptable. But a quick turn of pages towards the New Testament clarifies all doubts.

Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. – 1 John 3:12

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. – Hebrews 11:4

The scripture clearly mentions that it is the man the Lord looked at – it’s the heart that is important to Him. Abel by faith offered an excellent sacrifice plus he has been called righteous, thus it can be said that the offering is an extension of self. Abel was righteous and so his offering found favor in the sight of God. One needs to be right in the sight of God while putting forward an offering and Cain was clearly not!

Coming back to the story, Cain after the rejection first felt bad, depressed and then jealous …. finally he felt ‘wroth’ – anger.  All emotions coupled together with his wicked nature perhaps drove Cain to rise up against his righteous brother. The fight ended only after Abel’s blood was shed on the ground – death (first record in the Bible).

When God asked Cain about Abel’s whereabouts, Cain responded in a defensive and rude manner (this is perhaps his evil side that is not mentioned in Genesis). It’s just amazing the way God talks to a sinner like Cain in such a tranquil manner. Finally, Cain was punished for his deed …

And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. – Genesis 4:11-12

Learning and Application:

  • Do not prepare ground for negative traits to drive you to commit sin.

What are the negatives in me that can make me sin? How do I manage the sinful nature in me?

  • Offerings are an extension of the person offering it.

Am I worthy and sanctified to put forward my offering before God? Or am I like Cain offering sacrifices for the sake of it?

  • If God talks/reveals to you unconfessed sins, confess and seek forgiveness.

Am I turning a deaf ear when God is revealing my sins to me?

 

‘The Princess’ by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Love this portion of ‘The Princess’, by Lord Alfred Tennyson

The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

Every home needs a Harvey…!

I just saw the new Thinkbox ad and just couldn’t stop thinking about it. There are several companies that use animals in their ads but Thinkbox hit the nail right on its head. I am not surprised at the creativity of the ad as Thinkbox is known for its fine work in the field of television marketing. However, Thinkbox is not what I want to discuss. The protagonist of this blog-post is Harvey, the dog with a patch on his face 🙂 .

That dog just charms all who watch the ad. My friend who dreads having the ‘adopt a dog’ conversation with me and who thinks only labs can make good pets, smiled…and confessed he wouldn’t mind taking Harvey home. Harvey may not belong to a popular breed or do all the stuff the ad claims he can do – still smartness oozes out of every inch of him.

So here comes my appeal people… Look at stray running around on the streets of your city and  if you see a Harvey in that stray…Please adopt and give him a loving home.

This is Bruna, a 5 month female puppy of Indian breed. She is looking for a home. She has had her vaccinations and is in foster care. She was recently hit by a car and broke her hind leg and her toe had to be amputated. But the vet says she is recovering very, very well and will be able to walk normally in a few weeks. But she needs to find a permanent home ASAP! If you feel you can welcome this adorable pup into your home, send a mail to astrobaker@gmail.com. (This update is also available on Muddy Pawz, Facebook).

Starbucks – ‘The Refuge’

This post appeared on Prayag Blog.

I recently attended a training session in which the trainer spoke of Starbucks, slotting it under the list of companies with successful and well planned positioning strategies.  My knowledge of Starbucks so far has been limited to its reputation as an international coffee chain, one that is renowned for the world’s best hot chocolate! The first thing that pops to my mind when I hear the name ‘Starbucks’, is its unique and interesting logo.  But there is much more to Starbucks than just its logo. This international coffee maker has successfully expanded and has set up restaurants and coffee outlets across the globe. It was quite intriguing to know that Starbucks has been very successful in opening several outlets/hangouts at locations considered to be large coffee producers themselves (Eg. Brazil).

Starbuck has successfully maintained and even lengthened the lines at its counters as a result of its positioning strategy. The retail giant has recently positioned itself as a ‘Refuge for the elite’ by setting up posh outlets in metropolitan cities around the globe. Some may want to work in a calm environment with the sweet aroma of coffee tickling their senses, while others may want a quick get away from a hectic routine – whatever the reason and requirements are, Starbucks has positioned itself to be the solution (provided the person has the money to splurge!) Starbucks provides a beautifully designed space equipped with wifi, music, giant TV screens, friendly customer service associates and a menu that can suffice the cravings of any taste palate.

The competitors of the retail giant (McDonald’s McCafe and Dunkin’ Brand), may have found success in other areas of business, but when it comes to coffee, set up and positioning – Starbucks is the clear winner.

Race the Rain

Whenever I catch myself helpless, betrayed or such similar moments, I think of a person who can turn my gloom into a sweet smile. I also think of the things the person would say to me to encourage me and make me feel better. For me, this awesome person is my Daddy.

Amongst the many conversations I have had with my dad, there are 2 conversations that linger in my mind and are helpful in tearful and unpleasant situations. So all who need fatherly words of wisdom every now and then….here it comes…

1)      Race the rain:

I remember getting stuck in the rain with my dad in our hometown couple of years back. Like all other people riding 2 – wheelers, we too stopped and took shelter (where? – I think a bus stop). We waited and waited but the rain did not give any signs of stopping. After about 15 – 20 minutes, my dad turned to me and asked me,

“Are you a bag of salt?”

I said , “ ah, No!!!”

“Then you won’t dissolve and flow down the drains right?”

I said, “ No”

His reply to my response was, “Come , lets race the rain. It won’t be easy but then again we’ll reach our destination faster”.

Back then, I just thought of the present situation and felt the destination my dad was referring to was home. But no….he introduced me to the ‘Race the Rain’ theory to gear me for times when I would have to go against the flow. If I were to halt and wait for the winds to calm or the rain to abate, I would probably miss the mark or lag behind others who are breathing at my shoulder to overtake me. Like my dad said, it will not be easy but it will lead me to my destination. So, ‘Race the Rain’ three cheers to you.

2)      Steadfast prayer:

When I was a little girl, I went up to my dad and asked him to teach me to pray. I told him that I could not pray as well as other s ( others  also include them who fell under the same age slot). To that, my dad smiled and said, “ God is our heavenly Father , Correct?. He is a “ Father” , So, talk to him like you talk to me”.

Despite the advice, I prayed a prayer in a fixed format aping some of my friends – It was pretty vague. Then again, my dad said, “Be specific, when you asked me to buy you a Barbie, you told me you wanted an Indian Barbie, the one in a saree, the one with additional accessories, etc etc… Similarly, ask you heavenly Father what you want. Be very specific”.

I was awed by those chains of statements. So with a leap of joy I asked “Will I get whatever I ask for?”

My dad replied, “ God will give you more than what you can ask or think, provided you ask right”.

He meant a steadfast plea in time of famine and thanksgivings in the time of plenty. I am able to comprehend now, all that my daddy told me then – sometimes to my face, sometimes subtly and sometimes with love.

These 2 conversations will stay with as long as life is my companion. I am sure my daddy’s words of wisdom will be helpful to you – if not now, later.