Archive: May 2020

O Woman, Arise and Shine!

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Humility is not about hiding from the world. Holiness is not about living a dull life. Live a courageous and pure life that inspires and ignites others! A truly liberated woman is one who has risen to the place where God wants her to be, amidst all odds. She will be the voice for the voiceless, strength to the underprivileged, and a light to the dark world.

We need a broader picture of womanhood. True liberty is not about arguing over petty issues, whether women can lead or preach; it is about being a woman after God’s own heart. It is to be like Martha for whom service was initially drudgery but changed to delight after her encounter with the Master. It is all about rising up to that higher calling as planned by God to live a life of excellence wherever God has called us to be.

Mary Magdalene was liberated by the risen Saviour, and that is the reason she reached an enviable place in human history. She was liberated from the seven evil spirits living within her by one powerful Word uttered by her Master. All her rottenness, her greed, her pride, her pain, her hurt, her loneliness, and all her bitterness were gone forever by that Word. She was liberated to tell the story of the Lord’s resurrection power.

Mary Magdalene became a woman of faith, a gentle follower of Jesus Christ, and a living monument who lived to tell the story of her Resurrected Saviour. Her devil gaped eyes reflected God’s glory; her lips twisted by evil spoke gentle words of the Love of her Savior, and the body crooked with pain and bitterness beamed with the marks of rebirth. Her purposes were renewed, her discouragements were replaced with hope, and her sense of loneliness and isolation was replaced with joy.

The Deborah of the Bible was a liberated woman, a singular biblical figure to become a female military leader. She was a judge, a prophetess, and a seer. She was looked up for her position in society and for the authority she had. She was able to articulate her voice to advocate on behalf of others, and rightfully made an impact for the Kingdom of God. She arose and challenged the status quo amidst cultural conflicts. Her courage had indeed inspired other women, such as Jael. When we use our voices, our influence, and rise beyond our own feeble strength to fulfill our callings, others are strengthened, invited, and empowered to do the same. Just like Deborah and Jael, who served their nation during wartime, we are also living in one of the most important periods in human history.

Right now, we are living in one of the most important periods of our life. Let us use our voice, our time, and even our vulnerability to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. Let us not dismiss our vulnerability; our emotions; our tears as a sign of incompetence to disqualify our self because it can promote others to be vulnerable in their lives too. Let us be bold and take our position in God’s Kingdom without fearing anyone except God! Let us be peacemakers and speak Love, Life, Truth, and Courage into others. Wounded healers are the best healers. Let us be transformed by the power of God without being afraid of our own wounds. Our wounds can eventually become the scars of beauty that will be used by God for His glory! Let us become the liberated woman we are called to be!

Theological Responses to Natural Disasters

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I never knew volcanoes could be beautiful until I visited the Taal Volcano that is located around 55 kilometers south of Manila, Philippines. It sits on an island within a lake, in an incredible location that defies belief. It’s considered one of the world’s most dangerous active volcanoes as it has erupted 30 times since the 16th century, accounting for the deaths of more than 5,000 people. Taal Volcano erupted again this January 13th 2020, sending a plume of smoke and ash into the sky, destroying homes and displacing many people. During the same time, the coronavirus outbreak that started in China started to sweep across the world, and the world leaders could not stop its spread even through many lockdowns. And as we stand helpless before its death pangs, fresh attacks in the form of natural disasters are striking us – the cyclone Amphan that devastated Kolkata and Bangladesh and then the swarms of locusts that are attacking Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. At this juncture, I am overwhelmed with sadness while being loaded with many philosophical questions – Why all these meaningless disasters and massive sufferings? Why are good people affected as much as the bad ones? And many times, evil people are spared while the good ones struggle? Is this signifying the end of the world as written in the Bible? Is God trying to tell something specific to us?

Though I wish I would get a definite answer, I did not get any straightforward answer with my limited human understanding. Since we are not God, none of us can give the final answer except the Creator God Himself. We also cannot predict nor control any such disasters. That brings us to the realization that man is not the measure of everything but just a tiny, weakling before the vast, mighty cosmos. Then where can we find the answer? The Creator who made this vast cosmos and tiny beings like us in His very own image has given us His Word (Bible), which will provide us with some clue to all these. So, I decided to devour the Word of God to find out if God would speak to me.

There are many instances of disasters recorded in the Bible. The first major disaster took place when the first human pair, Adam and Eve decided to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, proclaiming autonomy from God. Since this rebellion is a cosmic event, even nature turned against humans and brought forth thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:18). This rebellion of the first human pair has defiled the Earth, bringing in destruction, causing some aspects of nature not to operate as God originally intended. Thus, nature became frustrated in its purposes and can no longer be the same as it was created to be. The reasons for other disasters that are recorded in the Bible were due to (1) God’s judgment on sin (e.g., Flood of Noah, Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, plagues of Egypt and so on); (2) Demonic powers (Job losing his children and possessions; suicidal swine given in Mark 5:1-20) and (3) the natural causes to maintain our planets tectonic activities. When creating this world, God used terrific things like plate tectonics (the movement of the rigid plates around the surface of Earth) to create continents and oceans, which also causes dangerous activities like earthquakes and volcanoes. Even the dangerous volcanic ash contains minerals that are beneficial to plants. Volcanoes help to cool off the Earth, removing heat from its interior and also brings out minerals such as tin, silver, gold, copper, and even diamonds, and also volcanic ash often.

Though there are many reasons behind the disasters, we realize that we cannot pinpoint one single reason behind the disasters. Though many times judgments are due to original sin and personal sin, God does not love to bring affliction but wishes that all people would repent and come to Him, and so disasters sometimes serve as remedial warnings. Mainly, disasters are a time of reflection and repentance and to realize that God is our only security and our present helper in times of trouble. This makes us to rest on the character of God and to be sure that everything is under His control. Though the final answers are not presently perceivable, we know for sure that we will find it in eternity.

I also feel that such disasters force us to evaluate the signs of the times as told by our Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:3). Jesus taught that there would be an increase in natural catastrophes during the end times, and before the coming of our Lord Jesus on the clouds. This theme is resonated in three gospels in a crystal clear manner (Luke 21, Matthew 24, and Mark 13). Such disasters shall come to pass, but the end shall not be yet. Again Jesus emphasizes that these are only the beginnings of sorrows. All three chapters also speak of coming of the Son of man in the clouds with great power and glory while the sun shall be darkened, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Though we do not know the day and the hour of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we know for sure that such disasters set the stage for the end. This is not to stir the emotions or passions of people but to inform us that we are nearing the end times. Soon the heavens might shake, and the Son of Man will arrive because the present condition of the Earth seems to be ripe for God’s judgment. I think this is the period in the history of the world when one can see a coming together of all terrible signs of the end times as the whole world is under birth pangs.

Since the Lord does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, apostle Peter gives warning to all of us in 2 Peter 3:10 – But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a terrible noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the Earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people you are supposed to be? Are we prepared to face the end time? Have we set our priorities in order? Are we trying to reach the desperate souls around the world with solutions that the gospel can alone provide?

Finally, though the reasons behind such disasters are unknown, we know for sure that God is Sovereign, and since God has allowed it, He is in control, and so let us not be swept away by panic and fear. And God’s offer to us, while we are navigating through this most dreadful period, is twofold. Firstly God identifies with us in our suffering by walking with us through it, and secondly, He alleviates the suffering by giving hope of eternal life, a life where every sorrow will cease and every tear will be wiped away. The Bible ends with an ecstatic vision of a new heaven and new Earth – “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). And we hear a voice declaring from the throne of heaven, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:3–4). Hence, we can nestle close in His arms, while we struggle to walk through this difficult period because of the immensity of the love of God and the intimacy of His Presence.

How Long O God?

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During this COVID 19 period, we wonder how long this little virus will trouble us? How long O God we need to be in this lockdown?

I think meditating on the book of Habakkuk will give us some solutions.Habakkuk cried out – O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? I cried to you about the violence, but you are doing nothing, O God. Doesn’t that sound like today? Here is a man who is disturbed about his nation. He sees everything going wrong. The people are living in wickedness; there is unrest, violence, injustice, and oppression throughout the land. Those who have the responsibility to correct this do nothing about it. So Habakkuk was greatly troubled. I have been watching for a change, watching for an outbreak of revival, watching for something to happen, yet nothing happens. How long must I continue in prayer, God?” In this sermon in Tamil, I present four things that Habakkuk did after this prayer which we can take it as a pattern while we wait in prayer, while we intercede for our family, for our nation. Firstly, Take your eyes off your problems and look to God and meditate on His character. Secondly, remember what God had done previously in your life. Start thanking Him. Thirdly Get into your prayer closet and apply it to your life and try to listen to His Voice. And fourthly worship while you are waiting in prayer. Rest in God.

Happy Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day brings in mixed emotions. While some celebrate mothers day with joy and remember the happiest moments with their mother, others face this day with a tinge of pain, because of the feelings of hurt in the relationship between mom and child, or because they are not able to give birth to children or due to the overwhelming grief from the loss of their mother or child. No matter what you face, there is comfort with God, and you can experience peace and healing through His Words and prayer.

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” – John Wesley

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am, I owe to my mother. – George Washington