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I Can Always Ask


Bat
If it is true as I mentioned in my last post, that we are all vulnerable, all dependent on others and indeed God, for who we are and how we can live in this world then there is a commonality between all people, those with disabilities and those without. It is at that point of vulnerability that compassion is possible. It is not a superficial attitude that says “there but for the grace of God go I”, rather it is a deep understanding that if I wish for a full place in society, if I long to be loved and need to be accepted then so do others and if I am hurt by rejection or being considered inadequate then others too will equally feel the pain of rejection or exclusion and resent being written off as useless.

George Abraham is a most accomplished man; he is musical, a cricket wizard and experienced CEO who has founded and run organisations and seen that they achieve sustainability before handing them over. He is an events organiser, public speaker and a Christian leader, and has a delightful sense of humour, he also happens to be visually impaired. I have known him for a few years and long since realised he was talented. I met his wife Roopa much later at a lovely lunch they hosted for me in their home. She knew George when they were children in Sunday School, lost touch as parents were posted and then met up with him again as a student in Delhi at which point she decided that he would make a great match. She said what she saw was a handsome, intelligent and accomplished, Christian man and she told her parents that she was fond of him. George’s father, on the other hand, was having to battle George saying he did not wish to be defined by his disability so his parents should not accept proposals from people with disabilities. As an aside it is a great testimony to share that George’s Dad said it would be his prayer that the Father would “send the proposal to his door” which is exactly what happened with a re-routed letter from Roopa’s parents suggesting they should meet up.

The reason that I tell this story here is because although George has a full and fine life he is the first to admit his vulnerability not as a sign of weakness but as a fact. He was as daring as any youngster even riding his bike around the colony where they lived and his love of cricket was based on bodyline bowling…

”I would aim for the haze at the far end of my vision and it was either a wicket or hospital for the batsman!”
But he is the first to admit that the derring-do of youth was matched by the practical application of his Mum collaborating with teachers, opening the house to his childhood friends for shared homework etc. He described himself as outgoing with lots of great friends so he was always surrounded by sighted boys and girls growing up. He used the word collaboration a lot. And it is a great word for that is what we all do through life, collaborate with others to get things done, because we cannot do them alone.

In 1 Cor. 12:21-26 Paul is talking about how the body (the Church) is made up of many parts.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.
I was near Delhi University North Campus a few weeks after visiting Roopa and George when I saw four visually impaired students walking together towards the metro and I was reminded of George’s comments about how his achievements are greatly influenced by the good sighted friends he has had along the way. He wished visually impaired students would reach out and make friends with the sighted students for their mutual benefit.

George had recently found himself forced to take an unscheduled long bus journey and had told the conductor he would need help to know when they had reached their destination and how to get from there to the airport. His neighbour on the bus asked why he did not travel with a companion his response was

“I can always ask for help.”
It is obvious isn’t it? I cannot tell you how many times I have felt inadequate to a task and have had to ask for help. How is that alright for me but somehow considered a weakness in a person with a disability?

So, what has any of this got to do with you as an Indian Christian reading this blog?

I hope it has challenged your idea of what it means to be a person with disability

I pray that it will bring you to your knees to thank God for reminding you that you are nothing, nothing at all without His blessing. You are vulnerable and that is the common ground you share with all men and women. We all need each other and God.

I trust that if you are a parent and you know any children with disabilities you will encourage your children to play with them, invite them for birthday parties, and children’s activities at home and church.

I hope that the next time you need to ask for help or directions you will recognise the need as one you share with people with disabilities, the elderly and children ….. and it will make you more sensitive and caring and less quick to judge.

I pray that if you are student you will not shy away from fellow students with disabilities because you are afraid.

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A New Beginning


What is Easter I hear them say?
It’s a holiday, yippee yay!
Like other festivals Easter too is fun,
Celebrate it like the way it’s done.

The Easter bunny is one of a kind,
Comes to hide Easter eggs for children to find.
It’s a time of feasting for some,
When all the family, together they come.

But, why exactly do we have Easter?
The answer I saw displayed on a poster.
‘New beginning’ it said
‘Jesusis alive, no longer dead’.

Crucified by the world he came to save.
On Easter, Christ rose from the grave,
His mission accomplished, he called all to Him,
Bringing light into lives when all looked dim.

When hope is bleak; almost dead,
No strength to move, feet heavy as lead.
When broken lives to him we give,
He gives us strength to victoriously live.

Give him our goals, our dreams, which have been shattered
Our lives facing storms, badly battered.
He promises a calm that defies logic,
A peace so pure, it seems like magic.

Easter comes with a message of a new beginning,
Promising to end our failures and start winning.
Rays of hope come shining through,
A message of victory for me and you.

Sunil Pillai
Survey and Research Consultant.

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Jesus was victorious over death


Jesus faced the cruelty of his crucifixion as a victor. His amazing response to the state and religious leaders who connived together to execute him was his prayer, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”(Luke 24:32). Jesus did not call for revenge. Jesus practiced the values of the kingdom of God which he had preached, calling people to repentance from their wayward values.

Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for the wages of our sins, so that we do not have to reap eternal consequences of our actions. Isn’t this good news? That I do not have to live under fear or stress of the load of my sinful life. Salvation is a gift from God in the form of Christ Jesus. We cannot earn it, nor do we deserve it, but God in His gracious love comes down to our human level to take us by our hand and raise us up to Himself.

The resurrection was the supreme public demonstration of the identity of Jesus. He was indeed God incarnate, the Son of God (Romans 1:3–4). Jesus died for our sins and on the third day he bodily rose again from the dead. Those who believe in him will be raised from the dead as well.

In Christ, the eternal divine life enters the human and finite life, bringing fullness of life (John 10:11). Jesus rose from the dead and in him the risen life overcomes the ultimate suffering of death. Jesus overcame sin, death and Satan. So do we, as we trust in him.

Happy Easter!

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell is Principal of Caleb Institute of Theology and General Secretary of Asia Evangelical Alliance.

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Give the Gift of Attention


Dr. David Hawkins – Marriage 911 Blogger

I sat with a group of friends recently and chatted about life. There was a new individual there I didn’t know. Zach was a 60-year-old man, retired from Boeing and was crafting a new life.

While I was very interested in his new life and what it was like to be retired, Zach preferred to ask about me and my new book coming out soon. He was filled with questions.
“Tell me why you wrote the book,” he asked. “Why did you write a book about emotional abuse? Do you many men who are emotionally abusive?”

He maintained rapt attention for over half an hour while I excitedly told him about the book and my interest in this topic. Later that evening I told my wife about the exchange.

“What were you and Zach talking about?” Christie asked.

“He wanted to know all about the new book,” I said.

“You two were talking for quite a while,” she said.

“Yes,” I said. “He kept asking me questions and making comments about emotional abuse.”

“I think he really likes to listen and understand people,” Christie said.

“Absolutely,” I said. “I hardly had a chance to ask about him. But he’s doing some exciting things too. It was nice to talk to him.”

As I reflected upon this evening, I was aware of how rare it is to actually show someone complete attention, actively listening to what they have to say and what they want to share. I was aware of the pleasure I felt at someone caring enough about me to ask depth questions.

Everyone has a story and most want to share it. Everyone has something exciting and interesting happening in their life, as well as something painful occurring, and if you ask, showing genuine attention, they will often share it with you.

When I consider what Zach did with me, and for me, I’m reminded of the life of Christ. He listened to people. Never hurried, he showered others with the gift of attention. He cared when the fishermen were not catching fish and when Mary and Martha had lost their brother. He cared when there were those who were sick.

Scripture is concerned about this topic: “Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” (Philippians 2:4, NCV)

Can you honestly say you are interested in the lives of others? Certainly, you care about them. You love them. But, do you sit and ask depth questions about the real joys of their lives or the real sorrows? This shows true caring.

If you would like to give the gift of attention, consider doing the following:

1. Have an attitude of attentiveness.

An attitude of attentiveness does not naturally occur. Most of us are preoccupied with events and concerns occurring in our own lives. We must clear away enough mental space to make room for new information. We must set aside our preoccupations, agendas and interests to show interests in other. Again, Christ is our model for doing this.

2. Choose who you will attend to.
You cannot give your attention to anyone and everyone. We all have limited time and attention. Select whom you will attend to and then begin the process. Choose who you will attend to, showing genuine interest and energy, caring and compassion.

3. Ask good questions.
Good questions will guide the conversation. If you want to know more about a person and what interests them, ask them. Gentle questions conveys you really care about them, what interests and concerns them and what they might want to talk about.
A good, positive conversation is really a dance—a give and take process whereby we sense where our partner wants to go and what they want to talk about. We are sensitive to areas of excited interest and are cautious when hitting a nerve.

4. Converse about the information you receive.
Good conversation flows. One good question leads to an answer and perhaps another series of questions, like peeling an onion. Learning more and more, you pay keen attention to the flow of the conversation, slowing down when appropriate and bringing the conversation to an end when appropriate.

5. Cultivate attentiveness.
Paying attention may, at first, not come naturally to you. Like any skill, you can become more adept at conversing and attending to others. Again, remember that showing attention, caring and conversing are often the highest forms of love. Show others you care about their lives by practicing these steps with those in your world.
Dr. David Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Center and has been helping couples in crisis for more than 30 years.

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Giving of yourself

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16

Festive seasons have become too much about perfect gifts haven’t they? Shopping and extravaganza. The joy of the season has been overshadowed by the pulls of budget and need, and a compromise between the two. Stress and then disappointment. All hard realities. The gift might be used or thrown away or (surprise!) make its way back to the original giver. These worries have replaced the spirit of a Christ-like Christmas. Though the poor are far from the world of gifting let us first define the ‘perfect gift’. Something rare, sorely needed, and great if recycled.What else but love? And untiring support. And understanding. And forgiveness. Seeing and listening.Oh, life itself!But is anyone rich enough to offer these?

Now consider God’s gift to man. The very love, support, understanding, seeing eye, listening ear and forgiveness that we crave. Life– eternal and in all its fullness! Perfect. A gift that expects this in return that we take, enjoy and pass it on.Foremost to that poor man or woman who is far from our world of gifting. Lonely, cold, trapped and broken,they’re the ones most starved of love, support and understanding.Know this Christmas that if you could be there for someone who is thinking ‘even death would be better than this’ you’ll have done it right for once. Know also that God’s gift – free and abundant – will keep you going strong.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40

Jaya Philips
Consultant

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Understanding Salt and its Saltiness

In Matthew 5:13 …At the Mount of Beatitudes, when Jesus addressed His disciples and said, “You are the salt of the earth”; He wanted them to be useful like salt, to all around them.

Jesus knew the importance of Salt when He gave them this example.

It is important for us to know the usefulness of salt and that it maintains and performs all important functions at the cellular level.

It is one of the most important mineral for our body functioning.

— Salt helps most enzyme functions.

— It maintains muscle tone and strength and prevents cramps.

— It increases conductivity in nerve cells.

— Helps to absorb nutrients from the intestinal tract.

— Clears up sinus congestion and eliminates persistent coughs.

It is water and salt that regulates all body functions and absence of salt can lead to serious body function impairment.

If deficient…it can cause weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting,confusion, irritability, hypothyroidism, muscle cramps, mentalapathy, weight loss and improper digestion.

If excess it can cause high BP and tissue swelling.

It is therefore important to know that salt is something one cannot do without.

People who have high BP should monitor their BP regularly, take their medication but not deprive their bodies of salt as deficiency of this useful mineral may lead to other problems in the body.

So let us sprinkle ourselves on the lives we can touch and exhibit our usefulness all around without losing our saltiness.

Dr. Dipti Buck

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Perfect Love

“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” 1 John 4:17 NLT

As children, we all dream about happily ever after. We pine away waiting for the knight on the white horse or daydream about love that is never anything less than perfect. When you think of perfect love . . . who do you think of? While most of you probably said Cinderella and Prince Charming; when I think of perfect love, my thoughts turn to Adam and Eve.

Kind of a bad choice for “perfect love” you might say; but Adam and Eve, while best known for the single worst mistake in history, were still the first couple ever made for each other in the literal and spiritual sense. God made Eve especially for Adam. She was made for him and from him. Their relationship was God’s handiwork and despite the whole apple thing, they created quite the life together.

Just like many love stories today, I have never turned a pumpkin into a carriage and my husband has never trotted in on a white horse to save me from some wicked queen. However, I have turned lemons into lemonade many days and he makes the cutest neigh when he gives our kids piggyback rides around the front lawn. We bicker from time to time. We don’t go dancing on Friday nights or awake every morning to breakfast in bed. He snores. I nag. He watches too much Sports Center and I watch too much Lifetime. But while we two are far from perfect, we love each other perfectly. God created our marriage in His perfect manner, in His perfect way . . . as only He can do.

God tells us in 1 John 4:12 (KJV), “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” So even though Adam and Eve were the epitome of imperfection, even though Adam probably forgot to take out the trash and Eve probably forgot to wash his leaf now and then, their imperfection was made perfect in their love for one another. No matter how flawed they were, their marriage was created in perfect love because the Master created it and He dwelt within the midst.

Don’t stress over living up to the fairytale. Your love story, no matter how simple or how elaborate, was designed by God. He perfected it. He wrote it. He even illustrated it and signed his name on your copy. He’s the author and the finisher. (Hebrews 12:2)

Happily ever after doesn’t always come with ball gowns and white horses. Most of the time, it comes with sweat pants and minivans. But that’s ok, because if it comes from God, it’s perfect and nothing less.

Brooke Keith – Contributing Writer
Copyright Brooke Keith. Used by permission.

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