Monday, September 8, 2014
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Saturday, August 30, 2014
In the last century, a tourist from the United States visited the famous Polish rabbi Hafez Hayyim.
He was astonished to see that the rabbi's home was only a simple room filled with books. The only furniture was a table and a bench.
"Rabbi, where is your furniture?" asked the tourist.
"Where is yours?" replied Hafez.
"Mine? But I'm only a visitor here."
"So am I," said the rabbi.
Friday, August 29, 2014
When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart.
- Russian Proverb
The woman on the park bench was gnarled and dirty. Her hair was an uncombed mess, her clothes torn and old. She clutched a paper bag to her side, which seemed to contain her belongings. She sat in the sun, humming to herself. Occasionally she threw a bit of popcorn to ducks who waited at her feet. A little girl and his mother sat by the lake, not wanting to share the bench with this wild-eyed old woman. But when the old woman beckoned to the little girl to share her popcorn, she ran to the bench and let out squeals of laughter as they fed the hungry ducks.
When we shun someone because of the way they look, we cut ourselves off from part of life. But when we are ready for anything - accepting and trusting - we are a wonder to everyone.
Credits: Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Mark came home from his first day of Sunday school third grade class and his mother asked, “What did you learn today?”
“Not enough,” Mark replied sadly. “They said I have to go back next Sunday.”
"What else did you learn today that was interesting," mom asked.
“I wish I were a magician so I could do well at Sunday school this year.”
When his mother looking quizzically at him, Mark continued, “I heard the teacher say that they’re good at asking trick questions.”
"And remind me to carry my sunglasses to Sunday school next week," Mark said in one breath.
"Why would you do that," mom inquired.
He replied, “Our teacher told us this year we have a class of really bright students, so I want to go prepared next Sunday!”
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
“Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”
"Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behavior does."
"If you don't walk the walk, it's probably best not to talk the talk."
"Your words mean nothing if your actions are the complete opposite."
"Having true faith in whatever it is your believe must be shown through actions; believing is only half the battle."
“To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.”
“Real friends are those who, when you feel you've made a fool of yourself, don’t feel you've done a permanent job.”
“A coincidence is when God performs a miracle, and decides to remain anonymous.”
“Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side.”
“You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.”
“Lead your life so you won’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.”
"Don't allow your wounds to transform you into someone you are not."
“Life is like an onion; you peel off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep.”
"May your dreams be bigger than your fears, your actions louder than your words, and your faith stronger than your feelings."
"Every exit is an entrance somewhere else."
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Conard Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotel chain in his book, "Be My Guest" writes about his mother who continually reminded him that prayer was the best investment he would ever make. He designed his version of "Our Father."
Our Father in Heaven
We pray that You save us from ourselves. The world that You made for us, to live in peace, we have made into an armed camp.
We live in fear of war to come. We are afraid of "the terror that flies by night and the arrow that flies by day, the pestilence that walks in darkness and the destruction that wastes at noon-day."
We have turned from You to go our selfish way. We have broken Your commandments and denied Your truth. We have left Your altars to serve the false gods of money, pleasure and power.
Forgive us and help us. Now, darkness gathers around us and we are confused in all our counsels, losing faith in You, we lose faith in ourselves.
Inspire us with wisdom, all of us of every color, race and creed, to use our wealth, our strength to help our brothers and sisters, instead of destroying them.
Help us to do Your will as it is done in heaven and to be worthy of Your promise of peace on earth.
Fill us with new faith, new strength and new courage, that we may win the Battle for Peace. Be swift to save us, dear God, before the darkness falls.
Monday, August 18, 2014
During one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. It seems he must have influenced by Paul's teaching of the resurrection of the body. As a young man, Franklin confided to his diary what he wanted written on his tombstone:
The Body of
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more,
In a new & more perfect Edition,
Corrected and Amended
By the Author.
He was born on January 6, 1706.
Franklin was surprisingly modest when he made his final wishes known - his grave in Philadelphia’s Christ Church cemetery simply reads, “Benjamin and Deborah Franklin.”
Friday, August 15, 2014
On this day, August 15th, India became an independent nation. Let us pay homage to those leaders who began the struggle for independence in 1857, fought for India's freedom and ultimately tasted victory in 1947.
With the clock striking the midnight hour on 14-15th August, 1947, India was 'to awake to freedom'. On that occasion, Jawaharlal Nehru gave the famous 'Tryst for Destiny' speech. He called upon the members to take a solemn pledge to serve India and her people. In an effort to look back, let's examine few items he addressed on that night:
Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her successes, and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future ?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom, we have endured all the pains of labor and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now. That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we might fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the One we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
And so we have to labor and to work and work hard to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart.
Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments. To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we appeal to join us' with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.
Looking back into history, where does India stand today?
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard.
My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on.
When I look at a homeless person and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money, and I look away.
My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.
When I hear music I love, I know I can't carry a tune and don't have much rhythm, so I sit self-consciously and listen.
My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don't know them, they make up their own.
When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messing up my hair and pulling me back when I walk.
My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground laughing.
When I pray, I say thee and thou and grant me this, give me that.
My kids say, "Hi God! Thanks for my toys and my friends. Please keep the bad dreams away tonight. Sorry, I don't want to go to Heaven yet. I would miss my Mommy and Daddy."
When I see a mud puddle, I step around it. I see muddy shoes and clothes and dirty carpets.
My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross and worms to play with.
Sometimes I wonder if we are given kids to teach . . . or to learn from.
No wonder Jesus loves the little children!
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Has it ever occurred to your that there exists an imaginary doorway between people? We have the power to turn the knob on that door and open it - to reach out to the person on the other end, and let them into our lives. When we feel like opening that door, certain people come to our mind. They could be our loved ones, our friends, family etc. In such instances, we either go see them, call them, talk to them or write to them the old fashioned way. Speaking of old fashioned way, writing letters has become an extinct art these days. Hardly anyone takes the pain to go through all those laborious steps. Email, fb and twitter are the new norms.
So this door - which we have the power to open will be opened to let only certain people into our lives. They are the ones whom we maintain contact with, whom we love, whom we are curious about, and even those whom we admire. Others, though we know about their existence, we hardly care about reaching into their lives or finding more about them.
Jesus Christ can be on the list too. At certain times, when we are desperate in need of something, we open that door wide open, look for Jesus all over and hope He will come for our rescue. Once His job is finished, we may think of conveniently getting rid of Him so that we can enjoy time with our chosen ones. The tendency is to keep Him in the vicinity, if in case we may need Him again.
A wise person would leave that door open for Jesus all the time, as Jesus can be a fantastic companion and partner. Those who treat Him as their best friend will vouch this - they do not need anyone or anything else in this universe apart from Him, as He fills all those voids in our lives. There are 10,000 reasons to keep Him on our side.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Leonardo da Vinci is one of those super-human characters and tops my list of 'Top 100 genius ever to have walked this planet'.
Born in Vinci, this Italian Renaissance polymath excelled as a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. We know him most commonly for his paintings, 'Mona Lisa' or 'The last supper'. While the Mona Lisa reminds me of this genius hiding the mystery and enigma in plain sight, 'The last supper' echoes how it turned out to be the most reproduced religious art of all time.
The last supper represents the scene of Jesus with his disciples, as it is told in the Gospel of John 13. Let's look at the chapter which Leonardo da Vinci probably read over a hundred times during the four year period, while commissioning this fabulous piece of art.
Come with me - let's go back in time when that actual event took place.
John Chapter 13
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal
18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Now, let's travel forward in time into year AD 1494 towards that small town of Milan, Italy, where the Duke of Milan commissioned Leonardo da Vinci with the work of capturing this image on canvas.
Having accepted the assignment to paint 'The last supper', he threw all his energies into the work. He labored early and late. No pains were spared by him. He pondered devoutly those pages of the New Testament which record the first sacramental feast, in order that he might do his best to realize and reproduce the memorable scene. At length his task was done. Having given the finishing stroke, he invited a few confidential friends to a private inspection. They gazed attentively, and various remarks were made.
An observation from one of them, however, led, as will be seen, to unexpected results. He spoke with great admiration of a golden chalice represented as being on the table at which our Lord and His disciples sat. Its shape, color, size, were all that could be desired.
"That," exclaimed the critic, "is the most beautiful object in the picture."
Hearing what was said, the artist, Leonardo da Vinci, took up a brush, and dipped it in black paint, and deliberately smeared it over the whole canvas.
His guests were stunned. Leonardo da Vinci soon explained and assured his guests that he did not act on an impulse.
"If," Leonardo da Vinci said, "what you tell me is true, then my picture is a failure, for I meant my Master's face to be the chief and most beautiful object."
We all are artists in a way or so, who are commissioned with the task of drawing a good or bad painting- the picture of our life. Too often, we make inferior things the most conspicuous objects on the canvas of our daily history, bestowing rich colors and careful handicraft upon trifles. Our Lord and Savior should be the grand center of our souls, and should have our chief and first attention.
Correction: Leonardo was born in Vinci, Italy, and not Milan. Vinci and Milan are about 325 kms apart. Thank you for pointing this out. Correction made to reflect accordingly.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Ever wondered when we discover and feel the presence of our loving God the most?
You will be surprised to hear this - it is certainly not when we are heading to worship him at the church, not during those prayers. It is neither when we love others, nor while we engage in wonderful deeds such as charity.
The moment when we are about to turn away from Him, is when we start experiencing His presence so strongly. It is true that our mind will be most conscious about God at that very instant when we decide to leave His presence - the moment we start draining that positive energy.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
“There are two ways of being happy: We may either diminish our wants or augment our means- either will do- the result in the same; and it is for each man to decide for himself, and do that which happens to be the easiest. If you are idle or sick or poor, however hard it may be to diminish your wants, it will be harder to augment your means. If you are active and prosperous or young and in good health, it may be easier for you to augment your means than to diminish your wants. But if you are wise, you will do both at the same time, young or old, rich or poor, sick or well; and if you are very wise you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society.”
~ Benjamin Franklin.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Who is it that is your shepherd? The Lord! Oh, my friends, what a wonderful announcement! The Lord God of heaven and earth, the almighty Creator of all things, He who holds the universe in His hand as though it were a very little thing, - HE is your shepherd, and has charged Himself with the care and keeping of you, as a shepherd is charged with the care and keeping of his sheep. If your hearts could really take in this thought, you would never have a fear or a care again: for with such a shepherd, how could it be possible for you ever to want any good thing?
~ H W Smith on Psalm 23.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Embarking on that grand vacation can be an overwhelming experience - particularly when we sit down to actually plan for it. Numerous considerations have to be factored in, while planning such a trip, before that itinerary can be developed. Few such things for consideration include weather, budget, accommodation, activities, sightseeing, transportation, dates, luggage, etc.
If the entire family is going, then expect to have agreements and disagreements as to what each individual wants or does not want to do. Then it boils down to making sacrifices and compromises.
Anyone who has planned or has been part of such vacation planning can attest to what I am talking about. Now, if you've ever planned a project then you know how detail oriented you have to be, in order to complete that planning exercise. One has to take that goal, break it down into smaller tasks comprising of monthly or weekly tasks, further breaking them into smaller daily tasks. Then the team has to nibble away those manageable tasks one by one to get to those bigger tasks, and ultimately accomplish their goal.
If a one or two week vacation involves such meticulous planning, how much planning would a wise person do for that eternal living in heaven? Do we even dare to mention about this fascinating destination - heaven, to our family members during family gatherings?
Friday, June 27, 2014
We all love listening to stories. Fishermen love to listen fish stories. To fully enjoy those stories, one should have seen that, been there, done that. This story is about a group of fishermen gathered in a little pub in Scotland, and they were telling stories - fish stories. While describing the “fish that got away” one of the men wildly flung out his arms and he accidentally knocked a tray of drinks out of their waitress’ hands. The drinks flew everywhere and one mug of dark beer hit the newly painted white wall behind her. After the crash came a deadly silence as the whole group turned and looked at the ugly stain on the wall.
Within a breath of time, a man who had been seated at another table jumped up and pulled out a piece of charcoal from his pocket. To everyone’s amazement he began sketching around the brown stain on the wall. Shortly, Sir Edwin Landseer, Great Britain’s most famous wildlife artist, transformed that horrible stain into a splendid stag racing across a highland meadow. He signed his name and left the wall an invaluable work of art.
Anyone who examines the Holy Bible will find ample stories of ordinary men and women transformed by the hand of God. On that day in Scotland, Landseer transformed an ugly mess into a masterpiece. Everyday, all over the world, Our God is in the business of healing our wounds, erasing our scars and transforming at least some of us.
If we have sufficient faith and courage to willfully entrust our lives into His hands, He will take us, cleanse us, transform us and use us for the purpose of building His everlasting Kingdom.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
A woman once went to consult with her doctor, worried about her husband’s temper.
“Doctor, every day my husband seems to lose his temper for no reason. It scares me. I don’t know what to do,” she said.
The doctor replied, giving her a bottle of transparent liquid, “I have a solution for the temper. When it seems that your husband is getting angry, just take 10 ml of this age old natural tonic and start swishing it in your mouth. Just swish and swish but don’t swallow it until he either leaves the room or calms down.”
The wise doctor arranged a follow up check up after two weeks. The woman returned, looking fresh and reborn.
She exclaimed, “Doctor that was a brilliant medicine! Every time my husband started losing his temper, I swished my mouth with your tonic. I swished and swished, and he calmed right down! Can I have a refill?”
The wise doctor smiled, and reached into his coat pocket for his notepad, to write a prescription.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
In our daily lives, we plan something. Then we notice that things don't always go the way we plan. Instead, we learn that God has a better plan. Ultimately, it is only God's plan which will work - He is the One in control.
If you've been reading proverbs daily, then you probably know that it speaks about making plans. It is ok to make plans, and we should.
Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course,A wise person realizes that for our plans to work, we need to submit them to God. How exactly do we do this?
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Well, during our meeting with God we should ask Him, "God, how should I plan this activity in order to glorify Your Name and Your Kingdom?"
When I was young and when my plans did not work always, I often used to get so frusturated. As I became old, I learned there is no need for us to get frustrated - things will not always go the way we plan. The solution:
Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
Friday, May 2, 2014
Weekend is almost here. For those of us who work hard, here is a quote that caught my attention:
Human beings are not designed to run like computers, at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. When we try to mimic the machines we're meant to run, they end up running us. In fact, we're designed to pulse. Our most basic survival need is to spend and renew energy. We're hardwired to make waves - to be alert during the day and to sleep at night, but also to work at high intensity for limited periods of time and then rest and refuel. Instead (most of us) lead increasingly linear lives, forever spending down our energy without fully or effectively renewing it. ~ Tony Schwartz.
Tony Schwartz was a columnist for The New York Post, Associate Editor at Newsweek, reporter for The New York Times, and staff writer at New York Magazine and Esquire. In 1988, Schwartz co-authored the No. 1 worldwide best-seller The Art of the Deal with Donald Trump. In 1995, Schwartz wrote What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America.
Tap here to read a small article by Tony in Harvard Business Review
Shakuntala Devi was dubbed the 'Human Computer' who made her way into the Guinness book of records. She passed away last year in Bangalore, India.