Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

Unexpected Rays of “Providence”

“Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.” C.S. Lewis

Unexpected occasions arise in one’s life at different points in their time frame. Yet while one mayn’t look for it, help often comes by His Grace.

Often unexpectedly, at a good hour, one may meet a person who disperses the clouds that have gathered in our soul, unwittingly resolving some of our personal problems.

” “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? “They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? “Its measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.” (Job 11:7-9)

Often it may be so that one happens to hear from another person a word that pleases them, or to say someone an encouraging word. Or suddenly one may receive a letter from someone, and precisely when it is necessary be it at a low point in one’s life or when one has been waiting for the “lost” opportunity for some time.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Often when one is deeply entangled in the circumstances life has thrown them into, when one is desperately trying to reason within their views and thinking, trying to get out of the hopeless situation; when suddenly something happens that radically changes the situation. Thus by inference unexpected meetings, kind words, cherished and promised letters and such situations as well as kind deeds towards oneself are all signs given to as reminders, lessons, admonitions, encouragement or as a call to remind one of the Grace of God and the gift of Providence.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Mathew 6:26)

Among the phrases handed down in the various cultures, there is a Chinese saying that all the darkness of the universe can not extinguish the smallest candle. It would do well to remember this during the dark phases of one’s life. When one knows and learns of this, the most ugly situations and the most terrible people may be viewed by different angles and seek out the spark of light. For Providence does indeed hold out the light, only it mayn’t be somewhere expected. When one believes in His Grace, Faith and Love; along the way one will find the rays that Providence throws offering the sparks and the rays to live.

“Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up.” Samuel Adams

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
― Corrie ten Boom

“……and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…” (Acts 17:26)

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Posted in Christian, Life, Personal Musings, Reflections

Of Easter, Hope and New Beginnings

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25 )

Easter, known as Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, occurring on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD.

For the practicing Christian, Easter symbolizes love, forgiveness, renewal and hope. It signifies the ultimate triumph against the inner conflict of sin, that man is always prone to. Easter also highlights the grace of God, the ultimate sacrifice of His Son as well as new beginnings through Christ.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Saint Augustine

Sacrifice is never easy. The modern day concept of love often mars the age old concept of “sacrifice”. Today the love is affirmed by open declarations and shows of splendour, lavishness, gifts and many more outlandish, expensive or exotic ways; all more or less involving materialism, wealth, money and riches. The old love of making a cup of tea for the better half, picking up cloths and socks off the floor to help reduce the chores, helping in the cooking, cleaning, washing and above all, making time to be just there at the most difficult, stressful times as well as lending an ear and hand, all involves “love” of the sacrificial type. To discern the true bonds of love among “better halves”, family and friends, is never easy but involves immense and mutual understanding, kindness, sacrifice, acceptance and forgiveness.

“Love always involves responsibility, and love always involves sacrifice. And we do not really love Christ unless we are prepared to face His task and to take up His Cross.” William Barclay

How more magnificent is the love and grace of God towards his creation, Man. Sacrificing His Son for the sins of man, even though He was innocent. Agape love or “selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love” describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers.” As the Corinthian Love teaches us ( 1 Corinthians 13:4-8), love can indeed go a long way to bring humaneness back into the modern living.

“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

The proof of Good over Evil, Right over the Wrong and Truth over Sin, is highlighted by the resurrection of Christ, marking Easter. The significance of Eternal Life is highlighted. Although man decries his own fellow beings with heresy, false accusations, biased notions and framed wrong doings; in the end truth will always be revealed, if not now then later. Through His Resurrection, the war against good and evil is highlighted; bringing second chances as well as hope to man.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:7-10

The underlying theme of Christian faith is echoed in Easter. Echoed through the concept of living sacrifice, as seen through Easter, the worldly lives don’t conform by the rules of the world, but by the laws of the Lord and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. True Faith involves love, hope, kindness, gentleness and above all, forgiveness for one’s own faults more than others. Easter symbolizes the hope of renewal, love of God, His Grace, His Mercy, His Forgiveness as redemption through Christ. The messages of Easter when echoed through the Christian Life year round, as well as one can, would make a small but huge difference to one’s own life as well as the lives around us. Most of all, one can be at peace within and live the given life on Earth to the tunes of own happiness, contentment as well as harmony.

“The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.” Basil Hume

 

 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Food, Life, poetry, Stories Around the World

Of Easter,Tradition and Trends

“I still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and true love. Don’t even try to tell me different.” Dolly Parton

With Easter Sunday being celebrated tomorrow, preparations are quietly underway which would make the day special tomorrow primarily keeping the children in mind. Easter Sunday is the day signifying the love of God for man, a time for hope, renewal and resurrection through His Son. With the season of Lent coming to a close and breaking the Lenten fast involves special significance, especially when one has abstained from something dear to them through this period. Sacrificing something that one is fond of is never easy, but a whole new meaning and character is acquired when we abstain from the “materialistic” pleasure that we being man, often crave every now and then. Which is why, every Easter Sunday meal is something that the entire family and friends look forward to. Besides being a time for togetherness, it also signifies the breaking of the Lenten Fast.

“The blessing of food for the Easter Sunday meal is especially popular among people of Eastern European descent, especially those from Poland. Families prepare baskets with the food they will eat on Easter morning – decorated eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, a loaf of bread with a cross cut into the crust, cheese, salt, horseradish, and butter carved in the shape of a lamb.” Ken Untener, The Little White Book for Easter

Around the world, various traditions are there on Easter. While initially they were modeled after the spring celebrations, later the trends were modified to give new relevance with the basis of the last supper or “Passover” or “Passove Sedar” in mind. Among the Easter Lunch, the fast is often broken by the “star of Easter”; painted, dyed, gilded in various hues, hidden or hung on trees, found on the treasure hunt, bough to church or given as gifts are the “Easter Eggs”. Most of the legends state them to be “symbol of life”.

“I agree. You don’t want it to look boring. It’s [the Easter egg] got to look good otherwise it’s just like every other chocolate. And size does matter when it comes to the egg, as that’s what Easter eggs are all about.” Liam Tomassi

Previously believed by the Egyptian and few Persian civilization of the early times, eggs were considered to be symbolic of after life. Few traditions believe that Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary held eggs during the crucifixion or that they were eaten at the first meal after the Resurrection. In the Eastern Orthodox churches, the hard shell of the egg represents the stone walls of Jesus’ tomb, with the egg itself representing the new life of the Resurrection. Eggs also were the easiest, most economical and available foods to eat while breaking the Lenten Fast. This popularity has lead in the presence of “the Easter Egg” predominate every Easter celebration.

“The Easter eggs symbolizes our ability to break out of the hardened, protective shell we’ve surrounded ourselves with that limits our thoughts and beliefs. As we break open our hearts and minds we discover a transformation to new, life enhancing thoughts and beliefs.” Siobhan Shaw

Another popular tradition was the Easter Basket, which was an “Easter Nest” originally. Arising from the concepts of fertility and springtime, Eastern basket was a German tradition which had gained mass popularity. Initially children would make “nests,” filled with grass, in hopes that Peter Cottontail would fill the nest with eggs. Later these nests evolved into baskets, which were bigger, less messier and easy to carry.

Amidst the Easter Eggs in the basket would be the “hollow chocolate bunnies”. While there is no historical or religious documentation on why the bunny represents Easter, the association would be more by the calendar. With Easter mostly during Spring, the month of April showered not only spring flowers but also signals the birth of baby rabbits. Thus spring time and bunnies symbolize birth and renewal. Coat the bunnies with chocolate and hollow them out to fill them with candies; voila the treat is irresistible for every kid in the block.

Other Easter traditions include eating ham or meat to the making of “Hot cross buns” and other breads marked with an X to symbolize the cross are a tradition on many Easter tables. From the “Choreg” of Armenia, Ukranian “Paska”, Polish “Babka” to Tsoureki of Greece, a wide varied variety of sweet breads are made around the world. With eggs being baked in most, these are conspicuously risen breads, quite different from the Passover tradition of unleavened bread.

As we get ready to break the Lenten Period and celebrate Easter, with all the food to be made ready, decorations to put up, church to be readied and tables to be set, the core message of renewal, togetherness and love shouldn’t be forgotten. One of the best ways to spread the message of love would be to share the delectable creations of Easter around.

The Easter Bunny came by today
and left surprises along his way.
Colorful eggs are all around.
With baskets in hand we search the ground.
Hiding in places here and there
Easter eggs are everywhere.
-Author Unknown

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections, Work

Dealing With that Itch

With spring season around and evening walks are in the to-do list, one may have encountered the occasional sting or bite when on or after the walk. When the mosquito bites or insect stings, the deadly red mark starts forming in the skin. There are few distinct pictures that follow. First the yell or howl, followed by the distinct smack (almost always missing the culprit) with the application of a balm to soothe the pain. Left alone, the bite slowly settles and passes after a while. On the other hand, once the sting appears and one enters the itch mode, then the bite is extensively combed, scratched and the blister (in the place of the little red spot) is born. Consequently the sting stays, the irritation grows and the pain doesn’t recede. Worse is the infection and the bleeding that then follows. Being a parent to a toddler, one must be familiar with this cycle.

“Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” Roberto Assagioli

Yet what is familiar, is the “feeling of the itch” is something similar to resentment. How we deal with resentment falls into similar patterns of an insect bite. Resented when treated in the right manner, ceases to sting; but when scratched, makes the whole mood go down. When dealt with an insult; if one tries to forgive and forget it, then it gradually goes out of the hearts. On self -dissecting it and chronic dwelling on it similar to self-persecution or self-pity; then the insult becomes stronger and deadlier.

“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.” Dale Carnegie

Dealing with offense is not easy. True that we must reflect on the events that had happened and words or actions exchanged. But one doesn’t have to mark it against oneself and fester it, to the point of destroying the self. Instead hand over those feelings to the wind, for then we become more wiser and gracious. For when things are left to His Will, life becomes more sweet and simple. This is a very good skill that is learned over the course of time.

“Let go of resentment for it will hold you back. Do not worry about what could have been, what is to come is what matters.” Leon Brown

Take the burden that we can handle and the rest, hand them over to Him and let His Will be done. The same with resentment. Yes one was offended but one doesn’t have to carry it around and ruin the only life that we have been blessed with. Let things figure out eventually in His Time and then we discover that what was felt big, bad and ugly initially will seem inconsequential in the long run in His Time.

“The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.” Elbert Hubbard

Posted in Christian, Daily, poetry, Reflections

Following His Path

” 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” ” (John 12:12-15)

With today being Palm Sunday, the next one week will take us through the journey of Lord Christ as he is crucified on the “basis of the sins” that he had committed, so that Man can be given a chance at salvation. For us Christians, it is a significant week which recounts the experience and final days that “The Lamb of God” had underwent.

Essentially Palm Sunday commemorates Lord Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, as mentioned in the four canonical Gospels. Today the service is marked by the procession of the faithful carrying palms which represents the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. In certain places, as it was difficult to procure palms, they were substituted with branches of native trees, including box, olive, willow, and yew. The Sunday was often named after these substitute trees, as in Yew Sunday or by the general term of Branch Sunday.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass.” ( Zechariah 9:9)

As per the Old Testament, the procession of Palm Sunday was earlier prophesied through the teachings and words of the Prophet Zechariah. The shout of “Hosanna” holds a significant meaning. The Hebrew word, “hoshi’a na,” when translated into Greek as “(h)osanna” and in English as “hosanna.” The original meaning of the word is “Save Please!”. It is a plea for help, understanding the potential impact of the scenario, the helplessness underwent and need for help to survive and live. Putting this into our spiritual lives, this security is in God. In the purest form, “Hosanna” is worship as we feel we have to come to the end of ourselves and we need God to intervene.

“25 LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Psalm 118:25-26)

Reading through the scriptures, another meaning of Hosanna was as a proclamation of “Salvation! Thank you!”. Here “Hosanna” stands for gratitude to the Lord for His Grace, His Mercy and His Love. The liturgical and sermon songs of today as well as messages open with the words of “Hosanna” where it is used as a phrase of adoration, praise and worship. Thereby, “Hosanna” implies both a cry for His Help as well thanksgiving for His Blessings that He has bestowed on us.

If wounded by words,
There is no reason to be distressed.
You show love affairs
Forgetting about the status, rank.

If rudeness, quarrels, screams
Cause a duel
Do not prepare peaks for battle
No saint cartel.

If someone could not resist,
Released a verbal poison,
You, my friend, is right, since he did not break,
Did not send the poison back.

If the pain is unbearable,
If the word burns like thorns,
Remember, friend, you are God’s Son:
He was humble to death!

Be close to Christ in communion,
asking for the victory of your strength.
Let it be, friend,
Meekness is known to all your people!

Ermolova S.

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Reflections, Work

Anxious to Spill

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” Charles Spurgeon

One of the worse things of happy times and days when everything goes as per the plan, is the niggling sense foreboding that something bad is going to happen. The problem arise most when we are doing well, yet one doesn’t understand how is it so and we often look for an excuse and cause for concern. One thinks of what will happen in a few years, after the exams, when children attend school or when the economy takes a turn for the worse. Worse of all are the thoughts of what will happen when one dies suddenly, about the events after, especially for loved ones, family, spouse, children, inheritance and life in general.

“The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.” Wayne Dyer

Anxiety is a painful condition often invented by man. Consequently we age ahead of our time; torturing ourselves as well as others with our wandering thoughts, imagination, speculations and scenarios that have yet to happen. Learning to put them to rest and submit our concerns to God, time and Faith will limit the “constant anxiety” which tries to pull us down and bind its’ chains around us.

“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.” Henry Ward Beecher

What we very often fail to remember is that our life is a gift from God above. Every second and minute is precious. So worry about each problem or issue once and as they come. For each sequence of events can turn out to be different, many a time, beyond our control. Try not to make our mind overrun with one’s imagination based on the present, for that alone is to blame for the scenarios in the mind that are invented, drawing from events that haven’t yet happened. There is a fine line between imagination and discernment. Learning to distinguish between both will help us enjoy the happiness that the present day life offers.

“My anxiety doesn’t come from thinking about the future but from wanting to control it.” Hugh Prather

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:26-27).

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Plans, Eternity and Time

Time and Eternity

A man was taking it easy, lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds. He was identifying shapes when he decided to talk to God. “God”, he said, “how long is a million years?”
God answered, “In my frame of reference, it’s about a minute.”
The man asked, “God, how much is a million dollars?”
God answered, “To Me, it’s a penny.”
The man then asked, “God, can I have a penny?”
God said, “In a minute.”

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

The other day, as the family had gathered post Saturday weekend luncheon, among the various topics being discussed were the renovation of the family homestead, plans for the college admissions and the like. What surfaced to my mind, was the fragility of human plans.

“Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.” Ramona C. Carroll

Many a time, man has planned numerous events, for the present, the immediate and the distant future. Little do we realize that most of our planning is based on chance. We base the future on a sequence of events believed to happen in a particular manner. When one block is pulled out of the regular, things may still go as per plan. But pull out a couple of them, then most plans come crashing down.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)

On the other hand, plans are needed to sort out our purpose and drive in life. Yet the whole procedure can be done, putting our Faith and dreams in God’s hand and above all, plan and know one’s limits.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Man needs to plan to grow and progress with time, else idleness and monotony would set in. Yet the lines have to be drawn at when, how, what and which plans to dream of and which not to. We need to dream big; but also realistic, kind, honest and true.

“God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.” Marcus Garvey