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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Happy Advent!

This is a repost of the Advent post from 2013. :)

Happy Advent!

The word Advent derives from the Latin word meaning coming. Basically, it is a countdown to Christmas day from the first Sunday after Thanksgiving and can also be thought of as a new year of the Church. The Lord is coming. During Advent we recall the history of God's people and reflect on how the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled. This gives us a background for the present. Today we can reflect on the past track record of God and so begin to understand what it means to us now for the sake of what is to come, in our own future and that of our world.

As mentioned earlier, Advent worship is like a journey through the Christmas story and most often people use Advent wreaths for the same. The circle of the wreath, made of evergreen branches laid flat, remind us of God, His eternity and His mercy, both which have no beginning or end. The four candles on the wreath represent the hope, preparation, joy and love, where the third candle is light pink and all others are purple, as seen in the figure. These are lit in the same order, one every Sunday. 

The first candle symbolizes faith in God keeping his promises to humanity. Read Romans 15:12-13

The second reminds Christians to "get ready" to receive God. Read Luke 3:4-6

The third candle recalls the angels joyfully singing about the birth of Christ. Read Luke 2:6-15

The fourth reminds Christians that God loves them enough to send his only Son to Earth. Read John 3:16-17

There are many more interpretations of the candles - hope, peace, love and  joy or God's people, the Old Testament Prophets, John the Baptist and Mother Mary. Please have a look at references 2-4 for various interpretations, prayers and references from the Bible for each week.

The final central candle, the Christ candle is lit the day before Christmas and symbolises what John 8:12 says, When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)






P.S.:Thank you Navya Varghese for reminding me :)
This post might be updated or further new posts added from time to time. Please check the main blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

God Will Make a Way - Don Moen

- Anonymous
See more here:

Isaiah 43:19New International Version (NIV)

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

An impossible situation might make you feel more depressed than excited. Don Moen’s song “God Will Make a Way” sprang from this kind of episode, a tragedy in his family In 1990, his sister’s family lost their oldest son in a car accident, as they were travelling between Texas and Colorado. Moen was unable to be with them in the aftermath, due to a previously scheduled recording session, but in his grief for them, he found solace by writing the song’s words on an airplane trip the following day.

Isaiah’s words (Isaiah 43:19) comforted him, so he rephrased them for the song’s lyrics. Friends of the family’s son came to accept God, because of the promise of heaven, and of seeing him again. The family’s own lives were fed as they involved themselves in their local church in a deeper way.

Fruit comes about in ways we don’t expect, Moen’s sister remembers.

Have you lost someone close? How are you dealing with it – does life seem unfair, maybe even impossible to comprehend, in death’s wake? There’s but one way to manage life, when death intrudes. It’s not pie-in-the-sky to hope in God and to prepare for a home with Him. I believe. If you don’t, what have you got to lose if you change your mind today? That’s what Don Moen and the prophet Isaiah have to say. There’s a way He’s made, though I cannot sometimes fathom it.


God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength
For each new day
He will make a way
He will make a way

By a roadway in the wilderness
He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trofim Dimitrov & Thomas Hudson

- Anonymous

Psalm 5:11-12New International Version (NIV)

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Trofim Dimitrov

Trofim Dimitrov could hear the dogs barking long before he reached the pit. On the way, he prayed fervently for his enemies, the guards, who then threw him down, naked to the hungry dogs.

Immediately, a great howling was heard. When the officers looked down into the pit, they saw Brother Dimitrov kneeling in prayer and the dogs in panic.

Barking wildly, the dogs were trying to jump the walls in order to save themselves from the strange power emanating from him!

Thomas Hudson - England 1558

The crowd looked on, curious at what the martyr would do next.  Thomas Hudson had come this far without denying his faith. The bishop had questioned him again and again, he'd not weakened in prison, and now he was walking to the place of execution. At the last minute, would he recant?

Just before the chain around him was made fast, Hudson stooped, slipped out from under the chain, and stood a little to one side. A hush came over the crowd-everyone wondered why he hesitated. The Christian prayed. Only Hudson knew the real reason he had stepped down. At the last minute he had suddenly been attacked with doubts and felt his faith grow weak.

Not willing to die while feeling this way, he fell upon his knees and prayed to God, who sent him comfort. Then he rose with great joy, as a reborn man, and cried, "Now, thank God, I'm strong. I don't care what man can do to me!"

Going to the stake again, he put the chain around himself. The fire was lit.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saint Lawrence

- Anonymous


"Turn me. I am roasted on one side."
 Saint Lawrence is one of the most celebrated Roman martyrs.

A church deacon during the time Emperor Valerian was vigorously persecuting Christians, Lawrence also served as the keeper of the church's treasures. He was arrested and told that to save himself he must give the church treasures to the government.

Lawrence readily agreed and told the official that it would take at least eight days to assemble them. On the eighth day, Lawrence returned to the prefect and presented him with hundreds of poor and disabled men, women, and children.

"These," he said, "are the riches of the church."
The enraged official then ordered Lawrence to be stripped, tied face down on a gridiron suspended over a bed of coals, and slowly burned to death.

Lawrence maintained a cheerful appearance throughout the ordeal and, when asked if he had any last request, responded with his last words.
"Turn me. I am roasted on one side."

His behaviour was said to have been so impressive that several Roman senators converted to Christianity on the spot, and hundreds of citizens did the same the following day.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Lesson on Humility

1 Peter 5:6-7New International Version (NIV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Alex Haley, the author of "Roots," had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post.
When asked, "Why is that there?"

Alex Haley answered,

"Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words & think that they are wonderful, and begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post & remember that he didn’t get there on his own. He had help."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Robert Raikes - The Founder Of Sunday School

Robert Raikes ("the Younger") (14 September 1736 – 5 April 1811) was an English philanthropist and Anglican layman, noted for his promotion of Sunday schools. Pre-dating state schooling and by 1831 schooling 1,250,000 children, they are seen as the first schools of the English state school system.
Raikes was born at Ladybellegate House, Gloucester in 1736, the eldest child of Mary Drew and Robert Raikes, a newspaper publisher. He was baptised on 24 September 1736 at St Mary de Crypt Church in Gloucester. On 23 December 1767 he married Anne Trigge, with whom he had three sons and seven daughters. Their oldest son Reverend Robert Napier Raikes had a son General Robert Napier Raikes of the Indian Army.
Robert initiated the Sunday school movement. He inherited a publishing business from his father, becoming proprietor of the Gloucester Journal in 1757. The movement started with a school for boys in the slums. Raikes had been involved with those incarcerated at the county’s Poor Law (part of the jail at that time) and saw that vice would be better prevented than cured.
He saw schooling as the best intervention. The best available time was Sunday as the boys were often working in the factories the other six days. The best available teachers were lay people. The textbook was the Bible, and the originally intended curriculum started with learning to read and then progressed to the catechism. Raikes used the paper to publicise the schools and bore most of the cost in the early years.
The movement began in July 1780 in the home of a Mrs Meredith. Only boys attended, and she heard the lessons of the older boys who coached the younger.
Later, girls also attended. Within two years, several schools opened in and around Gloucester.
He published an account on 3 November 1783 of Sunday schools in his paper, and later word of the work spread through the Gentleman's Magazine, and in 1784, a letter to the Armenian Magazine.
The original schedule for the schools, as written by Raikes was
"The children were to come after ten in the morning, and stay till twelve; they were then to go home and return at one; and after reading a lesson, they were to be conducted to Church. After Church, they were to be employed in repeating the catechism till after five, and then dismissed, with an injunction to go home without making a noise."
There were disputes about the movement in the early years. The schools were derisively called "Raikes' Ragged School".
Criticisms raised included that it would weaken home-based religious education, that it might be a desecration of the Sabbath, and that Christians should not be employed on the Sabbath. Some leading ecclesiastics -- among them Bishop Samuel Horsley -- opposed them on the grounds that they might become subservient to purposes of political propagandism. "Sabbatarian disputes" in the 1790s led many Sundayschools to cease their teaching of writing.
Notwithstanding all this, Adam Smith gave the movement his strongest commendation:
"No plan has promised to effect a change of manners with equal ease and simplicity since the days of the Apostles."
By 1831, Sunday schools in Great Britain were teaching weekly 1,250,000 children, approximately 25 percent of the population. As these schools preceded the first state funding of schools for the general public, they are seen as the forerunners of the current English school system.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Leadership Magazine carried a story about 4 young men, Bible College students, who were renting a house together. One Saturday morning someone knocked on their door. And when they opened it, there stood this bedraggled-looking old man. His eyes were kind of marbleized, & he had a silvery stub of whiskers on his face. His clothes were ragged & torn. His shoes didn’t match. In fact, they were both for the same foot. And he carried a wicker basket full of unappealing vegetables that he was trying to sell. The boys felt sorry for him & bought some of his vegetables just to help him out. Then he went on his way.

But from that time on, every Saturday he appeared at their door with his basket of vegetables.
As the boys got to know him a little bit better, they began inviting him in to visit a while before continuing on his rounds.

They soon discovered that his eyes looked marbleized, not because of drugs or alcohol, but because of cataracts. They learned that he lived just down the street in an old shack. They also found out that he could play the harmonica, & that he loved to play Christian hymns, & that he really loved God. So every Saturday they would invite him in, & he would play his harmonica & they would sing Christian hymns together. They became good friends, & the boys began trying to figure out ways to help him.

One Saturday morning, the story says, right in the middle of all their singing & praising, he suddenly said to them, "God is so good!" And they all agreed, "Yes, God is so good."

He went on, "You know why he is so good?"
They said, "Why?" He said, "Because yesterday, when I got up & opened my door, there were boxes full of clothes & shoes & coats & gloves. Yes, God is so good!"

And the boys smiled at each other & chimed in, "Yes, God is so good."
He went on, "You know why He is so good?"

They answered, "You already told us why. What more?"
He said, "Because I found a family who could use those things, & I gave them all away."