Posturing The Heart

Posturing The Heart

Those of us who have felt a call, a purpose or direction for our lives, may often have seasons where we go through solitude. Such seasons help us to discover our identity in Jesus, of how He sees us and the truth of Him accepting and setting us free. This allows us to draw close to the heart of God, to live a life of authenticity, derived from a close relationship with God.

I’m writing this blog from a place of experiencing such seasons. They were the toughest times, full of heartache and uncertainties and asking God to take this cup away from me, desperate for things to go back as they were. In the end, I found that God loves us so much and is so committed to see what He has purposed for our lives to come to pass, that He’s willing to patiently work with us and is making things work in a manner of what is right for us by aligning us with Him, His thoughts and His Spirit. We go from needing to do something and end up finding rest in being with Him through the tough times. He slows our racing pace, brings us to a place of being still, and discovering Him right there!

The uneasiness and unwillingness to give in that we feel is because the flesh prevents us from responding to our issues from the knowledge of our encounters with God. The only remedy for this is to greatly increase our intimacy with God which produces fruit and brings light. Crushing, discomfort, pain, heart breaks, and the like result in creating new oil and new wine. As we’re made stronger and through these times more of His perfect will and purpose for our lives begin to manifest. Rather than living from a one-time encounter and living out from that experience, we start pursuing the presence as priority once we’ve tasted Him. We may feel powerless in these seasons, but He uses and makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose.

So don’t strain yourself. It is God’s responsibility to take care of you, because you are His creation, His masterpiece. And when we humble ourselves to be people who are ready to be refined like gold through fire and plant through pruning, and diamond through cutting, we will truly be shining examples for Christ in this world. If and when you are in this season, run to Him. Cry out to Him. Let him embrace you, let him comfort you in the pain you feel, and affirm your hope, through the whole process.

Our Guest author for the week is Eston D’souza, a devoted lover of Christ and valued member of our church in Manipal. Eston embraces his experiences, allowing them to be used for the glory of God, ministering the good news to all whom he encounters in this new life with Christ.  

Drowned in Christ, Dead to the World

Drowned in Christ, Dead to the World

Ever felt a multitude of thoughts running in your mind troubling you, triggering fear, anxiety, and insecurity? Thoughts that put you into a place of feeling helpless, alone, depressed, rejected, and paralyzed? Me too!

As a child, I was deeply affected by whether somebody likes me or not. I always felt the need to be doing things to please others, the need to standout, speak out loud. An attention seeker. Yet, I would get anxious about things to the point of being frozen from action. In school, it was exams. Instead of starting somewhere in my portions, my anxiety would get the best of me and I would end up with a paralyzing headache making me unable to move forward at all.

I had amazing women in my life like my mom and granmom, who loved me. Still, I was filled with a lot about brokenness from family issues, some rough times in boarding school, and facing rejection often. My experiences summed up to me not knowing who I was, as the enemy tried to mar and disorient my identity.

Yet, the Lord is good. The Shepherd who comes through it all for His sheep, a Father who calls out to His son.  

John 10:3-4 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.


God called me out one day, when I was going through the lowest valley feeling depressed, broken, empty, left out and orphaned. And He whispered to me, “I’m with you and I’m for you”
That voice, that encounter set a joy in my heart. I knew this voice, I knew Him all along. He was near, but now that the Father had drawn me to Him. That very year the Lord started to speak destiny and purpose into my life through a Pastor, in a church away from my hometown. I encountered my beautiful Jesus there, committed to Him and to the church. God healed me through the process of just being in Him, as He wiped off every lie over my life with the truth that He is with me and for me. This truth lit up my whole world. I didn’t need validation anymore. I didn’t carry a weak, pity-party attitude anymore. He taught me to study from a place of victory, even after I failed during my boards. He taught me overcome fear and to just begin. To build from this present moment, to focus on the now and work on ahead. This would enable me to cover decent mileage, rather than never starting out in the first place.

Visualize this. You are sitting on the sea shore on a moonlit night and there’s water in front of you, and you are afraid that if you had to get in those waters you’d drown. But Papa God gives you another picture, saying “you’re already drowned in Me.” This thought sets you laughing out of joy, because now in this new life in Christ, you are already dead to the world. So for a person who is already drowned in this love, how can anything else of this world, be it thoughts, struggles, pressure, expectation, whatever you name it overwhelm him/her? Now you’ve been born again into His acceptance and love. As you taste him every day, nothing can be more real to you, and nothing has place to overwhelm you! You are drowned, you are surrounded and covered in this perfect lover Jesus. Rejoice!

Our Guest author for the week is Eston D’souza, a devoted lover of Christ and valued member of our church in Manipal. Eston embraces his experiences, allowing them to be used for the glory of God, ministering the good news to all whom he encounters in this new life with Christ.  

Cornelius meets Peter

Cornelius meets Peter

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”- Acts 10:1-3

At a recent Christian conference, I met a missionary, who has been working with the refugees from the conflict areas of the Middle-East. He shared accounts of many refugees from other faiths, approaching him with accounts of visions and dreams of Jesus Christ and asking him to tell them more about Jesus. One day, such a young man approached him and asked about Jesus and the shaken missionary shared the Gospel with him. The next day, the young man brought 25 other young men to him and they all heard the gospel again and they asked him to pray for them. This is not an isolated incident. Hundreds are getting baptized there daily. The light of God is almost always most visible to those who are suffering in abject darkness.

Cornelius prayed. From the biblical account we know that He and his family were devout and God fearing. Yet he hadn’t heard about Christ. An angel visited him not to convert him but to direct him to Apostle Peter.

“The angel answered, “…Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”- Acts 10:6

God gave Cornelius a supernatural encounter but gave the assignment of sharing the gospel to Apostle Peter. One man’s encounter lead to the transformation of all Gentiles. The bible tells us that Cornelius was expecting Peter and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter went inside Cornelius’s home, he found a large gathering of people. 

Not only was Cornelius a man of prayer, but his family also sought God with him. When Cornelius received a response from God, he didn’t hesitate. He stepped out and obeyed. Even before becoming a Christian he became a missionary by gathering his folks at his home to hear from Apostle Peter.

For the gentiles, the receiving of the gospel began with one man seeking and praying with his family for God. It began with one man willing to open his heart, his family and his home to be blessed by the Gospel of Christ and then readily share that blessing with his friends and relatives. This very event is going on right now in the Middle East. If it can happen in a war zone, it can happen anywhere. Even in your own city.

This blog is just a reminder to us that God hasn’t changed. He is still reaching out to the lost sheep. He is very busy connecting sheep to shepherds. People are searching for God amidst the shattered remains of their abusive homes, broken economies, unravelling social morality and war torn nations. Are the shepherds ready? Are you ready to live lives worthy of the calling that Peter received one afternoon at the tanner’s house?

It’s not about us anymore it’s about millions of people whose cries and petitions are before the Lord. Let us send our prayers before God, share in His burden for the people, answer when He calls and not allow convenience to prevent obedience.

S01 E02 : Pink, not Pinky

And by that I mean, the pinky finger! The smallest, most pretty looking and most insignificant finger. In an overcrowded world where everyone is fighting for a voice and for space, I want to begin by saying, woman to woman, you may be pink but you’re not the pinky. You are definitely not made for the last, you’re made to last! Our purple colored God, when He made humans in His own image, just took some of the blue out of the purple that He was and made man, and took the pink out of the purple
and made woman.

Genesis 1:26 ESV
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion..” It’s interesting to note here that the Hebrew word for man (Adam) is the generic term for mankind and is used as the proper name Adam. It doesn’t denote the word meaning ‘male’, but stands for humanity or a human being. And that’s why God blessed and multiplied ‘them’, not him.

Genesis 5:2 ESV
Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man (Adam) when they were created. God named ‘them’ Adam! Them together! Both Male and Female were called Adam.

Genesis 2:23 KJVS And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman (feminine form of a mortal being), because she was taken out of Man. Now, this is the first time ever in the story of creation that there is a distinction shown between the genders, where the root word for man isn’t Adam but Iysh, which means male and woman is ‘Iyshah’, the opposite of male. As the splitting image of a spirit being, that is, God the Holy
Spirit, we are gender less spirit beings first before physical beings defined by gender in our capabilities for a specific
task, because here’s the thing: It takes both man and woman to represent God. That’s why, when Jesus talks of the afterlife, He describes how we would attain our original form that was lost in the garden of Eden, that we would be like angels, spirit beings that aren’t identified through a gender.

Luke 20:34-36 [NLT] Jesus replied, “…But in the age to come…they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection. And that’s why, when the task at hand given to Adam (both male and female) was to have dominion over the earth, the
Bible says-
Genesis 2:18 [ESV]
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18 [ISV] Later, the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the woman to be an authority corresponding to him.” How could someone be a helper to another had one not been equal to the other? How could a lower form of mankind ‘help’ the supposed superior? Think about it.

 

Pastor Rashmi Varghese from Bangalore Revival Center is our guest author for this week. God has been using her powerfully to impact lives in Bangalore and across various other cities. This blog is a continuation of  a previous blog piece by her, titled ‘My Pink God’. If you haven’t read ‘My Pink God’, click here- My Pink God

The Syrophenician Woman- A New Testament Shadow to the Gentiles

The Syrophenician Woman- A New Testament Shadow to the Gentiles

An unnamed woman gets introduced in the gospel of Mathew 15 and again in Mark 7. St. Mathew calls her a Canaanite woman and St. Mark attributes her as a Syrophenician Greek. Jesus compares her to a dog.

“And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”- Mathew 15:22,23

I feel almost embarrassed to see how Jesus behaves with this woman who is clearly suffering. He says He has been sent only for the lost sheep of Israel. His demeanor shows He isn’t available for or interested in helping her. His response to her request was first silence and then an excuse. Neither of which inspires confidence, much less worship.

And yet this is her response.
“Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” –Mathew 15:25

Jesus was getting closer to his betrayal, suffering, and death on the cross. In a little while, He was about to die for this very woman and the rest of the world. His sacrifice was about to rip away the veil that separated God and man. So why did he treat her so poorly?

“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

This interaction would mostly leave me with an impression of an unfair God. In her place, my response would have probably been to raise accusations against the indifferent God of the Jews.
But then she said,
“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
I can’t tell exactly why Jesus behaved this way. But the account leaves me with a sense of marvel at the concept of faith according to Jesus as expressed here.
What was her faith? When Jesus confronted her with her inadequacy in receiving anything from Him, she did not respond with blame or disappointment with God. She did not grumble as Israel did in the wilderness. She did not walk away. She held on to one thing- the goodness of God.
Her response acknowledged that she was not worthy of help. She didn’t have the right to receive. She accepted that the salvation came for the chosen people, God’s elect, the seed of Abraham but she held on to the overflow of grace that the Jews received and she staked her claim to partake of it.
All salvation is salvation through God’s covenant with Abraham. It traces back to Genesis when God makes a covenant with Abraham saying “And in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12.3)
Her argument here is simply one of humility, perseverance, and truth. Yes, I am an unworthy foreigner. But Your grace abounds toward Israel and through Your promise of salvation for them, I receive salvation by faith. She didn’t question his goodness and his grace but instead, she depended on it.
A test of faith often brings us to our knees admitting our lack of credentials but also gives us an opportunity to express our steady confidence in the promise God has extended to us. When I look at this incident, I see God working in her to establish a new shadow for all the believers that come after her. I am able to see not an unfair God but a God working to reveal His heart to us through faith and actions of people like this gentile woman, encouraging us to trust in Him, to be humble before Him and to believe in His goodness especially when our faith is tested.

Lessons From Joseph – Part 3

Lessons From Joseph – Part 3

In our previous blog, we saw how Joseph found the right perspective as well as his purpose even when he was nowhere near the dreams that he had dreamt as a child. Imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, Joseph did not become dysfunctional and withdrawn, but he viewed his circumstances as a training ground where he was being prepared for the responsibilities that accompanied God’s promise. Today, let’s examine Joseph’s response to the different people who were a part of his incredible story.

There is always an opening for disappointment when we live on this earth among imperfect people. Yet, we are created to live in peace with all that’s around us, to live not as a reaction to fallen nature of men, but as a response to our lover Jesus, and the love He carries for others around us. This is the key to maintain healthy relationships. Joseph could’ve cried about his background, the crimes committed upon him. But he never complained neither about his brother’s betrayal and being sold by them to the Ishmaelites, nor about those who framed him of something as major as an attempt to rape, or even the chief of the butler forgetting the service Joseph had done for him. None of this stopped him from influencing or revealing God to those around him, even after so many years. The only reason being He had found God to be his everything, and that no matter what when he looked back on his journey He gave thanks to God who had orchestrated everything for good. 45:7-8.

In my life, I have always found myself in places where I never planned or imagined to be. At the time, I didn’t know the significance of those placements, but now, many things make sense looking at the completed journey. Sometimes not every reason is revealed at the very moment. Yet I would like you to know that God is setting you up for an elevation. If the butler had spoken of Joseph to the Pharaoh immediately, then maybe he would’ve gotten out immediately. But God was setting him up to influence, to serve a whole nation, for something much bigger than himself. Our purpose and callings are always bigger than us, but everything we need is already within us. Even when we are in the similar places in life, let’s assure and reassure ourselves that we are in God’s hands. Let’s stay tender and walk with him finding our purpose in the present with an elevated perspective of seeing what God is doing through it all. (Jer. 29:11)

The ultimate proof of His love and care for you was showcased on the cross. You are loved, accepted and everything concerning you and me has been made perfect because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Unlike the chosen few of the old covenant, all of us in the new covenant are called to live in God’s presence, experiencing, communing and dwelling with the Spirit of God.

No matter what your circumstances are, bring your mind to a place where you know you are guarded in Him, having faith that He is the One who has ordered your steps, finding purpose in your present, and experiencing Christ as your ultimate reward. This intimate life is made possible through the beautiful sacrifice of our lover Jesus on the cross all because God so loved us and the world.