Santa and Moses

SANTA AND MOSES

Santa stood by Moses.
“It’s really hot, prophet, what with my woollen suit and all… You must be used to this,” said Santa.
“It’s ok, Nich. Go take some rest; there’s some water in the jar there”, said Moses.

Both of them had been waiting near the burning bush. Actually, the bush wasn’t burning; sparks of fire were bolting out of it. Santa was mindful of his appearance and tried to stay clear. His white beard gave him the Christmas appeal and he had no PR agency to back him up just in case his beard caught fire. Already, a spark had made a mark on his broad, black belt.

“Why don’t you take your gloves off, ” asked a bewildered Moses, who himself was sweating more than usual. Standing on top of Sinai during mid-day isn’t as fun as walking through the parted Red Sea.

“Nah, I’m not used to it; I don’t know how my skin would react to this kind of climate.”

Spurts of fire had been coming out of the bush which seemed to be turning brown. “Hey the last time I saw one of these, the bush wasn’t getting burnt, despite the fire”.

“Must be global warming, ” added Santa, trying to help. Moses wasn’t amused.

“So you’re saying you haven’t talked to God?” asked Moses.

“Nope.”

“But weren’t you a Bishop once upon a time?”

Moses couldn’t palate the idea that such a popular figure in a Christian tradition of Christmas hadn’t talked to God till then.
“Yes, Moses. but I don’t enjoy a hotline with God like you.You make appearances with God, later Jesus, Elijah. You’re the Celebrity. I pale to significance in front of you,” said Santa, with a tinge of shame to admit that he hadn’t talked to God.

“So does he always do this bush thing, or does He speak like really loud, like with John the Baptist, Peter and all? It’s a different thing to be just human, you know?”

“What am I a Dinosaur? Heh… No, man, this is the only time I’m seeing this bush burning like this, ever since I saw it when He called me. I was wondering if He was showing us a sign. You never know how He goes about speaking to people, but it sure does stun you.”

Santa was amused by the ‘insider’ knowledge Moses shared with him. Being a bishop and later ‘Saint’ Nicholas once upon a time didn’t make one so different from other people after all. He was sweating in his suit and a pool had formed in his leather gloves. Yes, those white gloves are actually leather ones; they give a better grip while holding the sacks full of presents.
The bush was about to be completely burned out. Moses stopped gazing intensely at it and prepared to leave.

“So. .. .” asked Santa, not knowing what the proper etiquette with great prophets was. “What now?”

“Ah… nothing. If He’d actually wanted us to hear something, He would’ve come by now. So do you want to come with me or you have something else to do? “

Santa gave it a thought. After a minute, he said, “You know Moses, I’m not quite ready.” Moses could see his face turn white. Probably out of fear. The fear of having to part with the earth.

“Alright. Carry on, then. But I must tell you that the Lord isn’t too happy with all the things done in the name of Christmas – shopping, meaningless celebrations, drinking… forgetting what Christmas was for, in the first place. And somewhere down the line, you’ve become just a puppet.”

Santa didn’t know what to say. He’s seen all this for a really long time, especially the 20th and the 21st Century. Yet, he had to give presents. He wouldn’t know what else to do otherwise. And having met Moses, Nicholas acknowledged what he always knew – that life is far more important than just money, celebrations, popularity and all the gloss; that there’s so much underneath.

” Ummm… I’ll see you sometime, then?”

“Yes, see you soon.”

“Alright . . . Do u need a drop? I could perhaps . . . ” said a courteous Santa, tugging the slay rope.

“No, thanks” said Moses, “it won’t take a minute.”

“See you then. Cheers!”

They turned to go their own different ways. A strong wind blew over the Sinai. Moses’ hair and Santa’s beard fluttered in the air.

“Hey Nich,” called out Moses, “Did you actually get stuck in a chimney?”

“Ho ho ho…” laughed Santa, relieved that the ice was breaking, ” It was just those Americans who came up with that one. I couldn’t even climb up or down.”

” Ok then. See you soon.”

“See you soon, Moses”. Santa tugged his slay rope and off he went into the sky piercing the wind with his slay, taking a half turn and sailing away.

See you soon. Moses said that twice. That struck his heart particularly hard. What did that mean? Me? The world? Christmas?

In a distance he could see the birds flying towards the horizon. He tugged the ropes again, wanting to reach home faster. Moses. What a person to have met!

September 6, 2009

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What every pastor can learn from Kevin De Bruyne

What every pastor can learn from Kevin De Bruyne

Just in case you are not into football, Kevin De Bruyne is a prolific midfielder who belongs to Manchester City football club in the English premier league. His contributions to the team have been pivotal for their currently unbeaten streak of games this season (2017-18), as of January 9, 2018.

If one were to watch De Bruyne play, there are many parallels that can be drawn to pastoral ministry. A few things all clergy can learn from De Bruyne’s game: Continue reading “What every pastor can learn from Kevin De Bruyne”

Verses for the new year

Happy new year!

Are you happy enough?

Now I needed strength to enter the new year because of the feeling that I hadn’t enough strength to sustain the youth ministry I am in. Looks like I may be here in this city for one more year, ensuring a transition in the ministry from one Youth Chaplain to the next.

Encouragement came through the Word of God – the Word that creates and sustains. I hope this encourages you too!

Three verses came to my rescue at a time the feeling of inadequacy to lead a youth ministry gripped me, at the end of 2017 :

2 Samuel 23:10

but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

This appeared as I was reading Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson, a book that has found its way into my heart, family life, ministry, sessions and sermons! The verse emphasized the perseverance of Eleazar at a time his troops seemed to be losing the battle. He fought on…

… till his hands froze to the sword …

Hang on in there, Mathews, the verse seemed to say to me.

Isaiah 11:1

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

A verse read at every Christmas carol service, yet overlooked, as most don’t listen to the lesson readings in between the melodious carols.

A stump is what is left after a tree is chopped down. It bears no hope for fruit bearing or growth. It’s a sign of destruction and hopelessness. Yet Isaiah, driven my the prophetic vision conveys the imagination of the God he serves :

There is hope even for a stump.

God will enable life to emerge even from that which is dead and hopeless.

That’s enough for me and the ministry I am given. It’s not me who is leading it, but the Lord God, the creator and sustainer of life. Not only will a shoot come out of the stump, but also will the root bear fruit!

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

This passage lit up again while I went through a sermon I had prepared in October. It reinforced the above two verses. Together with these, I entered the new year with great hope and I wish you do too.

I was wondering how to sustain the momentum and growth of this ministry I am in. Sure it’s what I have always wanted to do! Now it needs further growth, more impact and expansion. And I don’t exactly know how, although I have made plans for the year. You could say, I am blind and can’t see the way forward.

But this verse, yet again from Isaiah, reminded me to hold the hand of the one I serve and just walk along, to places that I never knew. That’s super exciting. And he will shed light amidst darkness and make rough places smooth.

That’s enough. All I need for a new year is here. Now all that we might need is coming back and reading these verses every day.

I hope these verses encourage you. Let it brighten up your heart and fill your limbs and joints with strength. May the Word of God spur your will to be the blessing to this world you are meant to be.

An Indian Christian perspective on ‘sexy’

An Indian Christian perspective on ‘sexy’

A well meaning forward is doing the rounds on WhatsApp. It is about a Christian grandmother teaching her grandchild the meaning of sexy, as she dresses to go to Church. Allow me to add a few of my thoughts on it below, after quoting the said forward.

LOOKING SEXY AND DRESSED TO KILL FOR CHURCH SERVICE

The following conversation took place between a grandmother n her granddaughter. “Grandma: Akosua, where are you going?

Akosua: Grandma, I am going to Church.

Grandma: Really? Please come n sit down n let’s talk for a minute before you go. I think we still have ample time before the Church Service begins? Don’t we?

Akosua: About an hour, Yes.

Grandma: The way you are dressed, in fact, you look very sexy.

Akosua: (Smiling) Thank you very much grandma. Grandma: Hmmm, Akosua, I can see you love that compliment. Please tell me, do you need someone to have sex with you?

Akosua: Ooh noo.. Grandma. Why this question?

Grandma: If you do not need someone to have sex with you, then, why do you dress ‘sexy’?

Akosua: There’s nothing to worry about, Grannie. I just want to…

Grandma: (cuts in) …dressed to kill, as usual! Akosua, a Godly girl should never feel proud or swollen-headed when someone tells her that she looks ‘sexy’. In fact it’s a very bad and insulting compliment. The intention of dressing sexy is to arouse men, That’s all. That’s the reason why prostitutes dress this way. They dress this way because they want someone to have sex with them n pay them. They do everything possible to ‘look sexy’ n attractive – not to just one person, but to the entire men in town! They expose, they wear things that will reveal all their endowed curves – just to ‘look sexy’ and attractive to men, for money. Please, Akosua, are you also trying to look that way so that you will be attractive to men for sex?

Akosua looked down, and was speechless.

Grandma: You are young, fit and attractive, although you are a Christian, yet you always look so worldly. When you dress like this to Church, the probability of bringing even the pastor down is very high. But remember that *’woe betide the one by whom a righteous man is made to fall…’* I know you can remember this scripture very well. Well, my beloved grand-daughter, I am done. You can now go.

Akosua : Thank you very much, Grandma. I have never looked at it like this before. From today onwards, I promise never to dress again ‘to look sexy’ . I will rather dress to look beautiful and glorify GOD with my dressing. Thank you very much Grandma.

Grandma: You are welcome, my dear. (Seeing that Akosua started going towards her room, she said) But, are you not going to church anymore?

Akosua: I will go Grannie. I just want to change my dress, first.

Grandma: May God bless you for doing that.” Please share this story with your friends, most ‘sexy looking girls’ do not have someone to tell them the truth.

Sisters, don’t just read it, please react to it- just as Akosua did because we are addressed the way we dress. Let us dress right to reflect the Godliness in our lives!

SExy

Here is what I think about that message above from a Christian perspective :

The human body and beauty

The human body is created by God. God wanted to and He did. (Genesis 1.26-27).
He created all things and found it good. After creating humans, he found creation very good. So, beauty is God’s gift.

Enter, Shame

Shame came after sinning (Genesis 3).
Nakedness or no clothes was not sinful in creation. Until they sinned humans didn’t feel the need to be covered in cloth.

The problem of sin

But sin has entered the world, as a consequence of our actions. It caused  a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of “not good enough”. Lust comes under one of those. Note Jesus’ words to those who have lust towards a woman, even a fully clothed woman (like in his times): But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  (Matthew 5:28). Adultery in the Old Testament is punished by death. The grandma in the story seems to have forgotten that verse.
If one can’t stand feeling lustful with a woman who is wearing a dress of her choice, the problem lies with the beholder. It shows a lack of the presence of the fruit of the Spirit in them, one of which is self-control. Such people, ought to ask for grace and more of the Spirit.

If sexiness is about sex, then…

Sex within a God ordained relationship ( as seen in Adam and Eve) is sacred, beautiful and part of God’s plan (Genesis 1.28). Sex outside marriage is not part of its purpose, and is neither fulfilling nor sacred. It creates unwanted complications in relationships and much trouble and dissatisfaction within the soul. Any leading towards sex outside a marriage relationship, is to lead towards sin, be it man or a woman. Any such sexiness that is meant to evoke sexual feelings ought to be towards one’s spouse. In a Christian understanding, it is God who blesses and seals a marriage. That’s where that kind of sexiness becomes meaningful.

Too sexy for your shoes? Varied meanings of sexy.

Linguistics tell us that words have denotative meaning (what it actually meant) and connotative meaning (layers of meaning, that add on over time). Sexy originally means something that evokes sexuality (denotative).

However, over time and due to over use, the word has become part of casual conversation to describe anything that is attractive. Sexy phone, sexy shot (cricket), sexy interiors (houses), sexy beats (music), in addition to  the word in its actual sense. This causes confusion. The way she uses it may not be how I use it or how they use it. It doesn’t, these days, always imply “I want sex.” It has, however, become more of a substitute for attractive, no matter how unfit  you may think the term is. That’s a lot of connotative meanings or additional layers.

Dressing sense is common sense

A sense of dressing is important for any occasion. I’m sure that not many interview candidates who wore shorts to an interview for a Corporate ever got the job. Why? Isn’t the candidate free to wear what s/he wants? Obviously, the candidate uses the gift of common sense and determines that something more formal would suit the occasion.

It’s the same when it comes to worship, youth group and camps. Since the focus is on God, his beauty and Majesty, wouldn’t it be robbery to steal the limelight by wearing a flashy outfit- be it boys, girls or even clergy? 😉 I think so. May God be the centre.

God admires beauty because He is its creator. He has also given the gift of common sense.

The Indian situation

When it comes to the Indian situation, most of us ( I’m addressing Indian christian youth) worship in an intergenerational setting. Elders, youngsters, kids, couples, etc. all of whom find theirselves at different stages of their life. The various people grew up in varied points of history with distinct social etiquette. Their sensitivities vary.
What might be shocking to the other could be normal to another. However, as Paul suggests, Christians must be sensitive to the setting and then make their decisions. Will what I wear cause a disturbance in the community when it comes to worship?  Will I hog the focus, even though its not my fault? Then sensitivity is paramount.

What is ultimate : Seeking the salvation of all.

The above doesn’t mean I live in fear and self-doubt. We ought to ask ourselves : which are the places where my beauty and attractiveness will glorify God? Be in all your splendour there! That’s the conclusion the grandma comes to which is indeed Biblical. However, responsibility on the part of the male is missing from the forward.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10.31-33

 

 

The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

Run to the roar.

Set God-sized goals.

Pursue God-given passions.

Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.

Stop pointing out problems.

Become part of the solution.

Stop repeating the past.

Start creating the future.

Face your fears.

Fight for your dreams.

Grab opportunity by the mane and don’t let go! Live like today is the first day and last day of your life.

Burn sinful bridges.

Blaze new trails.

Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands.

Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God.

Dare to fail.

Dare to be different.

Quit holding out.

Quit holding back.

Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

– Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion

Walking through a mall

I’m walking through a mall.

I’m feeling uncomfortable. This is not how it used to be. But this is what it has come to. I can’t wish this feeling away.

Everything looks great, fabulous and opulent. Adept at creating desire, the strings of my heart are tugged at by the colourful, classy, seductive whatchamacallits in display, all available to me if I’m ready to shell out money.

I want many things.

They don’t need me. But they tell me I’m yours. Enchantress!

I don’t go to malls often. The one near us is small and I’ve got used to it. At the moment I’m hanging around a much larger mall in another city. I’m feeling sick. Sick, because I want everything and about all of it, I really can do without. It’s not that I can’t afford, but the drooling deep inside, despite an outer composure is what makes me feel sick – of myself.

“I want this”,

“I’ll look good in that”,

“I could use this”,

“That is what I had in mind.”

.

There’s something to appeal to every single craving of mine.

I walk, uncomfortable and avoiding, like an alcoholic passing by a bar.

I know deep down I want everything, although it may be of no use to me. I feel weak. I feel bad. I feel thirsty and desirous. It’s futile. It’s…

The mall is a monster.