THIS IS WHAT MY BROTHER WROTE TO ME AND OTHERS (posted with his permission of course!)
I started the year reading Robin Sharma’s 7 fundas that promised that the new year will be an unforgettable year if they were faithfully followed . I was so impressed and convinced that I went to the extent of making a photo copy of this masterpiece and sticking it onto the first page of my diary. The 2nd of January 2011 was the last time I actually saw this piece of paper till today when I sat down to write this yearly Christmas letter ! If I think of what happened this far I know I started off with the thought that I want to do something that matters and be a positive contribution to the world and this basic motivating thought still remains highly motivating at the year end! I do not want to delve on what went wrong this year though this in a conventional world is meant to help improve oneself. Yet a few or at one mention is well deserved. A full 17 months at ‘Shutter Island’ does not do you much good, trust me, specially when you are isolated from the rest of the world in a sordid camp called ‘CCA site offices at Yas island, Abu Dhabi .The alarm going off at 5 am, the long drive to and fro through crazy traffic, the exhaustion that takes you early to bed, no two day weekend.... And then ‘Oh at least you have job’ thought tortures you even more specially when your employers make it obvious to keep your tongue harnessed!. Hopefully , 2012 will bring us back to the urban jungle of Dubai. My 2 other colleagues and I long for the moment when we shall triumphantly announce that we survived the shutter island of Yas ! Actually started on Joseph Heller’s best selling classic- Catch 22 and was inspired to write my version of ‘Yas-22’ .Never got beyond the first chapter...of reading, not writing! This year I made it to 9 new countries, revisited 2 for the second time and the last planned trip Im headed home for Christmas. All this was completed in 4 different trips, one for each season, bringing me closer to the goal of WILTS ! ( The world in a lifetime series instituted by cousin Melwyn and me in 1999 .) It was Malta and Sicily in Spring ; UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Estonia in summer ; Austria, Hungary, Slovakia in Autumn and home sweet home Goa in winter. (32 degrees max is hardly winter yet the familiar carol ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ keeps ringing in my ear.... ‘ from Dixie to Pensicola, there’s no better place to spend Christmas than home sweet home...” Sandi patti belts this out every morning as I drive to work in her shrill soprano voice and I feel contented with my difficult decision. Traveling thousands of miles a year takes its toll,- as in wishing you had done more ! But I remained in relatively good health for most of the year waiting expectantly for the next trip as the first one ended !!. All told, it was a great year for travel, and I'm grateful for all the adventures. I am thankful to my travel bug infected cousin Melwyn and his wife Valerie for inviting me yet again to join them on the trips to Malta and the enjoyable cruise to Scandinavia and Russia aboard the ‘Radiance of the Seas’ .And to my good friend Deven too. He was my companion exploring the gorgeous cities of Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava. One of the best travel experiences was the fall season in Europe, the air is cool(Got to use our winter clothes...winter clothes do look smart, yeh?) , the trees shades of gold, the aroma of chestnuts roasting by the street corners and stalls being set up in anticipation of the festive season... This year my mother’s dream of a pilgrimage to Lourdes was fulfilled, thanks to my brother Felix who organised and flew with her and all the ground work done by brother Cosme. My uncle Joaquim passed away to the better world. My uncle was a great inspiration to me and our family being my mum’s elder brother. We spent all our formative years in his wonderful house under his watchful eye. We learnt a lot of things from him other than learning discipline (difficult with 4 unruly boys under one roof !)– right from how to tie a tie to how to use a camera. Another ‘bigger than life’ personality who left this earth is Lloyd’s father Archibald who in some way or the other contributed to our lives by just being there . Creativity flourished though I wish I could have done much more .....My first book called ‘Krafty kids’ was released in February .Thanks to Joseph and Cosme . And then Joseph finally got his first novel ‘Dona Paula’ published by Author House. My nephew/Godson Leander made his debut in the school production of ‘Almost Alice’ and ‘the phantom of the opera’. Very professional show indeed and he proved that he is born to shine on the stage with a great voice and an awesome stage presence. Watch out world! Leander and niece Luella did well at their Xth standard exams as well and did their families proud. This sums up a lot of what happened this year and what I am feeling during the final days of 2011,feeling good at times, low at times but holding up well, motivated to continue with help from above, wanting to make sure I am doing the right things which is my biggest concern. And I am thankful... - there was always food on the table, an abundance of it , a variety of it.-Was in excellent health , my near and dear ones were kept safe ,healthy and happy too.-Safe on the roads specially driving the treacherous 240 kms per day on Shk Zayed road.-For the company of friends who with their warm presence and thoughtful words led me on during low moments I wanna wake up feeling excited about what lies ahead, unsure as I am.....When I end my day and go to bed each day I want to look back and remember the contribution I have made to the day, my day................So help me God.
Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and a peaceful new year 2012. 'May Love prevail'
Historically, no one denies that Jesus walked this earth about 2000 years ago; that he did remarkable wonders and acts of charity and that he died a horrible death on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem.
Spiritually, many have accepted Christ as a great man, great teacher or great prophet but His inspired followers did not mince words when they declared Him to be God (John 10:30-38,Mat 16:13-17, Mark 14:61-64, John 14:6, Heb 1:8, Col1:16,John 12:40-41). Therefore any type of intellectual compromise calling Jesus a 'Good man' is logically inconsistent!
Because either HE IS A LIAR or A LUNATIC or LORD AND GOD!
Since Jesus Himself claimed to be God, when in reality He was man, His claims are either true or false.
If false, he was a liar misleading the multitudes
He was a lunatic believing himself to be God!
If all believe Jesus to be a GOOD MAN, how can He also be a LIAR and LUNATIC?
There remains only one logical and consistent alternative ... HE MUST HAVE BEEN TELLING THE TRUTH!
You may argue HE WAS A LEGEND!
But this cannot be because:
-The Gospels were written 30 to 50 years after His crucifixion (unlike legends which are written some 300 years after some event!)
-Some of the early Christian CREEDS proclaiming the LIFE, DEATH and RESURRECTION date back to 3 to 10 years after the crucifixion.
-If Jesus' claim to deity were a myth, the early Jewish opponents would have presented FACTS to prove it wrong!(In fact, the rabbis in Jesus' day never denied Jesus' claims that He was God. Instead they called Him a liar and had Him tried for BLASPHEMY!
Ultimately, you will be confronted with this question: BUT WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? (Mat 16:15)
And what would your answer be?
I thought i'd share with you a small video of Modern high School's concert. Leander (my son ... the tall lead singer) and his mates put up a good show last night. Let me know what you think! Enjoy! http://www.word.diaz.co.in/node/1253
When Leander was just three years old, Lorine and I had taken him along with us to church on a Sunday. As usual, we had chosen the very first pew. The mass was being said by Fr. Daniel Cerofolini, our vicar. Leander was busy playing on the kneeler. Just before communion time, much to our embarrassment, we heard an excited Leander scream, "Beer, Beer". He was pointing out to Father who was drinking from the chalice! Both, Lorine and I did not know where to look in shame. We just covered Leander's mouth and quickly sat on the bench hoping that nobody had heard Leander!
In those days, we partied a lot and entertained family and friends at our home. Of course Leander was always in the limelight and remained with us in the hall whilst everyone drank and talked loosely. Little did we realize that the child's mind was absorbing new words and actions like a sponge! He was associating words with actions and having heard the word 'beer' and seeing people drink it, in his mind he was sure that Fr. Dan too was drinking beer!
Now Leander is 16 years young and Leroy 13 - both fine young lads. It has been about 3 years since we threw parties at home or drank. Nowadays, the celebrations have become very sober and prayers have increased. We realized just in time that what we were doing was having a bad effect on our children. The 'damage control' was not a very easy task. Many of the things we did as adults in front of our children were beginning to bear bad fruit through our children's behavior at school and with our maid (We had a maid then!). We used to get complaints from the teachers almost every day those days and we thought that beating the children was a good deterrent only to realize that the situation was becoming worse! Leroy was frequently falling sick too!
A little over 3 years back, at the height of my sinfulness, I met Bro. Alex in Goa during one of my short breaks. Whenever he used to visit my brother Cosme, I would tiptoe past Cosme's door and run up to my bedroom and lock myself in! I hated their loud prayers and Biblical sermons. One day, I was sitting with Cosme when Bro. Alex just walked in. I had no way to escape from him this time. As we were talking casually, he suddenly mentioned something about my younger son – He had guessed his illness! ('Kissing tonsils'). He also said that we were in fear over what the doctor had begun to doubt. He was telling me things that were very accurate and I'd never even mentioned these things to anyone in Goa nor in Dubai! Then he declares that the Lord has healed Leroy! He even told me the issues we were having with our children in school and at home!
That night I accepted the 'word of knowledge' as a sign from God to repent and change my ways. Once I had decided to seriously accept Jesus as my Lord and savior, the hunger to know more of God's Word grew in me. Today I look back and see what the Lord has done in our lives. He has taken us right through all those worrying situations and made us victorious! Every time we are faced with a challenge now, we only look at God's faithfulness and we know the end result even before we get into it! Blessings will always follow when one serves the Lord!There is no doubt that Joshua 24:15 really came to concrete terms in our family when I believed. And our children are/were marked out, claimed in the process. The household dynamic changed. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say the family, the home, was uprooted to a new place, spiritually speaking.
Joshua 24:14-15 "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
This is the first part of a 45 minute long video filmed on my mobile phone of the tribute paid to the heroes of the 9-11 attack. Lorine and i were truly touched by the ceremony and speeches. America loves and remembers her heroes always! God bless America !
THE LINK: http://www.word.diaz.co.in/node/1252
Note: Please look out for the other parts in subsequent weeks, as the upload limit is set at 500MB/week !
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Jane last evening. Jane has been very active with the Pota Ministries and also conducts many spiritual sessions in Dubai. She was talking excitedly about the ‘Bless the Nation’ gathering which took place in Dubai on the eve of the UAE’s 40th Anniversary.
She went on to say that the Lord had great plans for me and that He would use me mightily. She was particularly appreciative of the fact that I played the flute ‘flawlessly’, ‘held the flute with grace’, ‘dressed well, not like the other performers’, ‘appeared calm and composed’, ‘held the notes up to the last note’ …. These are just some of extracts from her conversation with me.
When I told my wife about the call, she just laughed it off saying, “she was only ‘flattering’ you”.
I’m sure, even my other friends would have brushed it off with a ‘Jane has a ‘crush’ on you.’
Why am I writing all this?
It is human to latch on to the ‘frivolous’ interpretations of someone’s talk. It is all too easy to poke fun and throw away the ‘deeper understanding’ that one can glean from all this. Don’t you see the other ‘dimension’ to all that Jane said? Let us analyze this!
First of all, Jane was just one of the thousands who participated in the prayer meeting but what she expressed exposed another ‘dimension’ which I’d like to call the ‘spiritual dimension’. If Jane could notice so many things that may appear to be ‘insignificant’, what kind of ‘statements’ could we be making every day of our lives at home, office and church?
Have you sometimes wondered why some people just don’t like you or talk to you?
Have you even asked yourself, -‘But I’ve never once said anything against that person but he/she still does not like me’? It is time that you make an examination of all the ‘unsaid’ things that may be causing this ‘reaction’ from people. It could be your body language or the way you annoy people with your mannerisms/etiquette, personal hygiene, dress sense etc. etc.
And how would God look at us? After all, no place is hidden from Him!
Hebrew 4:12 says, “For the aword of God isbquick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged csword, dpiercing even to the dividing asunder eof soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a fdiscerner of the gthoughts and hintents of the heart.”
Has it ever happened to you that when some preachers preach, the words ‘burn’ within you? Whilst when some others preach, you just switch off (yawn maybe?). Even a few words form one who is deeply ‘connected’ to God can put your soul to rest and you just know that God’s ‘anointing’ is on him.
Let us therefore be more conscious of all the ‘unsaid things’ (through speech) and put some focus on the ‘the things we say’ (through our body language, mannerisms etc.).
In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule. About 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. At 10 minutes:A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly. At 45 minutes:The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32. After 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell , one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. This experiment raised several questions:
*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .
How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?
(Note: My brother Antonio sent this article to me ... It was an eye opener! I thought i'd share it with you)
Yesterday, I was invited by Cynthia Fernandes to set up my table to do caricatures for her 'Cynthia Business Club' (CBC) for women. The bazaar was held at the Satwa Park from 11 am to 6 pm. Cynthia is known to most Indians living here in Dubai for her selfless work in providing jobs to jobseekers (free of cost). From the time she lost her husband, she mustered all the courage and determination and made a firm resolution to do everything possible to survive through the ordeal of providing for her two children. Today, she is a successful business woman and looks back at what the Lord has done for her. She declares that the Lord has taken her right THROUGH her storm and now, she stands firm in her faith in Jesus, no matter what situation tries to shake her from the Love for Christ.
Yesterday’s bazaar was not on of those hustling-bustling ‘flea markets’ I’ve been to in Dubai. Whilst I did a few caricatures (mostly for children), I had the opportunity to minister to many over there. There was a fat Filipina clown who was making the children laugh with her antics and her amazing skill with making various forms with balloons. I kept watching her and suddenly the Holy Spirit urged me to speak to her.
Funny thing is that I didn’t even have to leave my table. She just came to me like as if the Holy Spirit led her to me. I looked at her and I said, “Sister, behind all the laughter and smiles, there is deep sorrow, pain and regret. The Lord wants to heal you and your situation”.
She just choked on her own words and said that she wanted to go away and cry. Later, she came back and I explained to her Hebrews 11:1 - ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the assurance of things not yet seen’.
She said, ‘I never knew that I can pray ‘believing like I’ve already received it!’ She went away believing. This time with true joy!
Another noteworthy thing that happened yesterday was this: When I arrived at the park, with my sister-in-law and her daughter (Lorine was busy dropping Leroy to the football field), the best places were already chosen by the 11 ‘early birds’. So I settled for a place in a far corner and praised the Lord for it. Couple of hours later, I realized that I was blest with wonderful shade from surrounding trees while the sun was bearing down on the rest. Feeling sorry for them I began making place for others who were suffering in the heat. I had not sold many books and just a few children had their caricatures done. But I kept thanking and praising God for the beautiful shade and rest he was giving me. Towards the end of the evening, the Editor and Director of a women’s magazine came by and chatted with me. Little did I know that the Lord was going to bless me again! This lady not only bought books but is giving me 10 stories to illustrate! Also, she will be placing bulk orders for my children’s books too!
Most times when situations are going against us, don’t look at them with your ‘worldly vision’ but rather look with your ‘spiritual sight’. Keep praising God in everything you do. Acknowledge Him and do not lean onto your own understanding. Meditate on His scriptures. Memorise some of His promises to his people and hold fast to them. He will surely make your path prosperous (Read Joshua 1:8/ Psalm 1)
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
(Note: This is not my original article. Thought i'd post it since it touched my heart! The author too is unknown to me!)
A while back, I read a very interesting book that comparedlife to a train ride or a series of train rides. Life is like a train ride, it read. We get on. We ride. We get off. We get back on and ride some more. There are accidents and there are delays. At certain stops there are surprises. Some of these will translate into great moments of joy, some will result in profound sorrow.
When we are born and we first board the train, we meet people whom we think will be with us for the entire journey. Those people are our parents! Sadly, this is far from the truth. Our parents are with us for as long as we absolutely need them. They too have journeys they must complete. We live on with the memories of their love, affection, friendship, guidance and their ever presence.
There are others who board the train and who eventually become very important to us, in turn. These people are our brothers, sisters, friends and acquaintances, whom we will learn to love, and cherish.
Some people consider their journey like a jaunty tour. They will just go merrily along .
Others, will encounter many upsets, tears, losses on their journey.
Others still, will linger on to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.
Others, will encounter many upsets, tears, losses on their journey.
Others still, will linger on to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.
Some people on the train will leave an everlasting impression when they get off….
Some will get on and get off the train so quickly, they will scarsely leave a sign that they ever travelled along with youor ever crossed your path…
We will sometimes be upset that some passengers whom we love, will choose to sit in another compartment and leave us to travel on our own. Then again, there’s nothing that says we can’t seekthem out anyway. Nevertheless, once sought out and found,we may not even be able to sit next to them because thatseat will already be taken.That’s okay …everyone’s journey will be filled with hopes, dreams, challenges, setbacks and goodbyes.
We must strive to make the best of it… no matter what...
We must constantly strive to understand our travel companions andlook for the best in everyone. Remember that at any moment during our journey, any one of our travel companions can have a weak moment and be in need of our help.
We too may vacilate or hesitate, even trip… hopefully we can count on someone being there to be supportive and understanding…
The bigger mystery of our journey is that we don’t know when our last stop will come.
Neither do we know when our travel companions will make their last stop.
Not even those sitting in the seat next to us.
Personally, I know I’ll be sad to make my final stop…. I’m sure of it!
My separation from all those friends and acquaintances I made during the train ride will be painful. Leaving all those I’m close to will be a sad thing. But then again, I’m certain that one day I’ll get to the main station only to meet up with everyone else. They’ll all be carrying their baggage… most of which they didn’t have when they first got on this train.
I’ll be glad to see them again. I’ll also be glad to have contributed to their baggage… and to have enriched their lives, just as much as they will have contributed to my baggage and enriched my life.
We’re all on this train ride together. Above all, we should all try to strive to make the ride as pleasant and memorable as we can, right up until we each make the final stop and leave the train for the last time.
Usually I ignore the tons of email forwards I receive and delete them straight away however, the Holy Spirit made me read one that really opened my eyes to putting my life in order. Many may have read the mail and been blest by it already (i.e. if you’ve applied it to your life! … Bro. Johnson’s parting words to me this time were –‘ APPLY the knowledge that you have gained’).
For those of you who may not have read it, it goes somewhat like this:
Once, a professor in a Bible College decides to play a game with his pupils. He divides the class into two teams and gives each the following materials: A glass jar, Ping-Pong balls, tiny pebbles and sand. He tells them to fill the jar with the provided materials in 2 minutes flat. Everyone gets onto the exercise in a flash, not thinking analyzing and planning the problem/solution. One team puts the sand in first and by the time they realize their mistake, the time is up! The other starts correctly by putting the Ping-Pong balls first but they put the sand next and they too lose time in correcting the sequence. The professor than allows them enough time to collectively think out the problem and the solution and this time, they get it right!
The Ping-Pong balls go in first, followed by the small pebbles, then the sand. The professor, then clarifies the intent of this exercise; the jar is our LIFE. The Ping-Pong balls are all the ‘spiritually good things of life’, the small pebbles represent all our ‘worldly wants’ and the sand are all the ‘non-essential’ things of life.
The one who fills the jar with the pebbles and the sand first is one who will miss out on the ‘life-giving’ things in life as he will not be able to fit the Ping-Pong balls later. Once you’ve PRIORITIZED and placed the ‘spiritual things’ first, just like how the pebbles and sand fills the gaps between the balls, other things will just fall into place!
Then the professor asks the pupils, “So is the jar full now?” and they all answer in unison, “Yes”.
The professor walks over to the jar with his glass of water and pours it into the jar and smiles.
“Even if the the jar is full, God can still fill you with the ‘streams of living water’ he has promised us!
Like me, when I first read the story, many of you may be saying, ‘How can I ever put things in the right order?’ Well, on your own power YOU JUST CANNOT! But with the grace that Jesus has brought to us, WE CAN. As you go deeper into His Word,your jar will be emptied and ‘Re-ORDERED’.
One great place to start understanding the above is to read MAT 6:25 to 33 which ends like this:
SEEK FIRST the kingdom of heaven and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS and ALL will be added unto you.
This morning, I was talking to my sis-in-law Lavina, who I was dropping off at her place of work. We were having this interesting conversation about how some of our colleagues think that our ‘works’ will please God and therefore earn us a place in heaven. Many are very careful not to break the holy ‘laws’ laid down in the ten commandments only because they are fearful of God’s wrath!
There was a time when I would never read the Old Testament because it was all about law, law and more law. There were wars, killings, incest, harsh punishment etc. etc. which I could never understand. I would always question why all these things even belonged in the bible!
It is only now that I’m beginning to understand the truths. Man was always created to be the crowning glory of God’s creative genius but disobedience to God’s Word severed the inexhaustible flow of God’s abundance in man’s life. The very nature of God being LOVE, He led Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, where any sin would destroy man forever. ‘God had a plan’ for man, not for his destruction but for a great future’ (remember Jer 29:11?). Therefore God kept changing this plan every time man sinned, to offer man the opportunity to repent. Prophets after prophets were sent down to earth to ‘turn’ man’s heart towards God but to no avail!
The animal sacrifices made by man to God, in an attempt to atone their sins were becoming abhorrence to God. God had to do it once and for all through a ‘mediator’. This person had to be ‘fully man’ yet ‘fully God’ to carry out this mission. Man’s soul having been captivated by satan, the only way to pay the ‘ransom’ to satan and free man was through a human sacrifice of a ‘flawless lamb’. And therefore, Jesus was sent down to earth, avoiding the ‘original’ sin through a divine birth through a blessed woman, Mary.(Mind you that Jesus was ‘promised to man’ thousands of years ahead of His coming, through over 300 prophecies recorded in Holy scripture! There is no other man who has come to earth who has fulfilled those prophecies but Jesus!)
Jesus, the very embodiment of ‘AGAPE LOVE’ taught his apostles and disciples true humility, love and temperance. He preached a ‘heavenly kingdom’ and raised the ‘law’ to another level. Without abolishing the law, he taught us how to uphold the law through love! A new dimension was given to the understanding of the law. A new dimension was given to the understanding of the ‘FEAR OF THE LORD’. This time around, man was to fear God not for His punishment but FOR CAUSING HIM DEEP GRIEF on account of our sin.
A good illustration to understand this would be the ‘hanger rod’ in your cupboard and the ‘hangers’ holding your clothes on it. Let us say that the hanger rod is LOVE and the other hangers are holding the commandments. If the hanger rod collapses, the commandments also collapse! There is no point in ‘keeping the law’ if you are not keeping the law ‘with love’!
Romans 10: 9, St. Paul says,
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved”.
Jesus Himself declared, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. No one goes to the father except by me” (Jn. 14:6). The Pharisees called Him crazy, because He went against their beliefs but others, even from other religions agree that Jesus was a good man. Jesus cannot be crazy and good at the same time! If He is good than why is it difficult for one to believe what He himself has said? Many discard the bible as being written and rewritten so many times that the original meanings have been changed. But praise God, even today’s translation is RICH IN LOVE and leads many who believe to the understanding of Christ’s love and to the saving grace by HIS BLOOD that he shed in atonement for our sins!
Ultimately, I cannot end any other way but this!
If you choose to believe, NO PROOF IS NECESSARY
But, if you choose not to, ANY AMOUNT OF PROOF WILL BE INADEQUATE!
Yesterday was Bro. Johnson’s last day of preaching for this month. The next couple of sessions will be in Jan 2012.
I was really blest with his analogy of how to RECEIVE OUR BLESSINGS from God. This is what Bro. J asked the gathering yesterday:
There is a malfunction in the water desalination plant in Dubai. The entire network of treated water is now filled with saline water and people are desperately looking for pure water. Out of nowhere, an announcement is made that someone is distributing water to anyone who needs it. If it was you, how would you go there?
The mic was passed around and most answers came: “With a bucket”, “with a bottle’ but only one answered with, “I would take the biggest tanker there is and get the water”.
SO, WITH WHAT KIND OF MINDSET ARE WE GOING TO GOD TO RECEIVE OUR BLESSINGS? IF our FAITH is as big as a tanker, you will take blessings as many as the tanker will hold!
God’s promise is limitless. He has promised an ‘abundant’ life (Jn. 10:10). The issue here is that we do not believe enough and therefore we do not draw enough of the blessings from God’s abundance!
When Jesus was seen walking on water by the apostles, Peter, who was a fisherman all his life knew how amazing it was to walk on water. Everyday, when he pushed his boat out to water, his feet sank. He wanted to experience walking on water himself! So when he asked Jesus if he could come to Him, Jesus only said, “COME”.
Peter believing in that single word, was quick to jump onto the water and walk! OF course, the FEAR of the tempest and the waves made him lose his faith and he sank!
When Jesus said, “… you men of little faith”, he meant, the ‘duration’ and not the ‘quality’ of the faith of Peter. As long as Peter hung on to the word, his faith was unwavering and therefore he could walk. His faith lasted only for a short while!
Heb 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.
GOD’S WORD IS ACTIVE AND POWERFUL AND IS ABLE TO DO ALL THINGS.
Today, I went to make my son a cup of tea and although I’d remembered to put sugar in the cup, he still complained that the tea had no sugar. Before putting more sugar in, I scraped the bottom of the cup with a teaspoon and found the sugar there, waiting to be stirred!
On my way to work, the tea incident reminded me of yesterday’s teaching by Bro. Johnson on Ephesians 1:3 which says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ
But the question is, how do we connect to the ‘source’ so that the blessings can flow into your life? This being rather difficult to understand because of a lack of imagery, Bro. J came up with the following analogy:
Imagine that you’re having a bath and suddenly the water stops flowing. Later you go to the roof (Hopefully, the water did not stop when you had soap on your body J) and see that the tank was full and the only reason could be that something had happened to the pipe. So, only once the pipe is repaired, YOU (not anyone else) will OPEN the tap and let the water shower your body.
Much in the same way, our ‘spiritual tanks’ have been loaded with blessings from the Lord, but the only way to ensure that the blessings flow into our lives is to keep ‘maintaining’ the pipe (=THE WORD OF GOD) that connects you to the source. But even then you still have to activate the flow by turning the knob/lever (=CONFESSING THE WORD/BY BEING A DOER OF THE WORD) to let the ‘springs of living waters’ flow that Jesus promised us!
So friends, don’t forget to ‘stir’ your spirits up to allow the blessings to bring sweetness to your lives. REMAIN BLEST ALWAYS!
Being a holiday, I decided to spend some quality with Bro. Johnson Sequeira, who has come to preach the WORD in Dubai. As I was leaving the apartment, I got this strange urge to carry the 4 DVDs of the FIREPROOF movie that I’d found on my shelf two days ago.
After we spent almost two hours of Q&A session, everyone in the room decided to go down to the udupi restaurant for some ‘chai’. Martha suddenly made this statement that made me very, very excited. She said, “You know brothers, I’m trying to help save a marriage but I just cannot lay my hands on a copy of the movie, FIREPROOF!” When I told everyone about the DVDs, everyone was amazed at how the Lord had answered Martha’s prayer.
When we were in the car, Dilu also mentioned that she was travelling to Sri Lanka and had two couples whose marriages were on the rocks. That was when I told them that I had infact 4 DVDs with me and I gave two each to Martha and Dilu! It pains me to see couples who were deeply in love before marriage suddenly fall out of love because their love is not built on the strong foundation of the WORD!
Many will just put it aside as a mere coincidence! But personally, ever since I turned my direction towards the Lord (3 years ago) and invited His grace to make all the corrections in my life, I’ve had a lot of such ‘coincidences’ happening to meJ
There was a time when I was out on a brisk-walking outing. As I reached a guitar shop, I had this strange urge to enter the shop although I have three guitars at home and I didn’t need another (not even accessories!). When I entered the empty shop, the owner greeted me and asked what I needed. I just told him why I’d entered the shop and that he appeared very disturbed about something (believe me, I didn’t even know the guy!). That simple meeting kept me in the shop for 3 hours and I had filled 7 pages of ‘mindmaps’ explaining about ‘THE SPIRIT, SOUL and BODY’ teaching that I’d just learnt from Bro. Johnson. At the end of it all, he understood and believed. I could see that peace that transcends all understanding enter him (BTW, he was so engrossed in the teaching that others who came into the shop were quick to understand and leave without disturbing!)
Much like the ‘provision’ of the DVD’s, God had already made me listen and understand the lesson fully, knowing that through me He would reach out to this hapless brother. Many a time, we do not understand why certain things happen to us, but looking back over the years you will be able to join the dots and ‘see ‘ the picture clearly now. Other times, our prayers are not addressed as we would like them. But then, you will thank the Lord that the things you prayed for were not granted and only you will know the reason why.
I was watching the anniversary celebrations of the 9/11 attack in my hotel room in Dallas, Texas. From the various programmes on TV, I could gather that many lives were saved because of some simple tasks that had to be done, which kept them away from the Tower: Getting late because the kids missed their school bus, being their turn to buy doughnuts for the office staff, splitting headache, car breakdown etc. I’m sure each one must have lost their peace over these irritations! The best one was when some firefighters remained back with a black lady who just could not walk. Although she insisted that she be left behind, the firefighters insisted that they would stay with her and figure out a way to get her out. Later they realized that if they were in the escape stair, they would all have died when the building collapsed!
I believe that when your heart is burning with love for the Lord, you will want to KNOW HIM better, so that you can LOVE HIM more; and the fruit of Love is SERVICE!
It all began a couple of months ago when i visited the VOICE INTERNATIONAL office in Deira, Dubai to collect tickets for the Bob Fitts concert. I happened to mention to Rana, the office boy that i was a Caricature artist and i would like to hold a workshop for children over there. I also happened to mention that i played flute and sax.
After the amazing workshop with Bob Fitts after his show, i dedicated all my instruments to the Lord in a prayer and i decided to go 'full gospel' on the music scene! But then i forgot all about it for some time until, i received a call from VOICE on around the 22nd of last month, inviting me to join their gospel band to play for the BLESS THE NATION SHOW.
At that time, i almost blurted out that i'd given my name for the Caricature Workshop and that i'd not played the sax for a very long time ... but then i hesitated ... posed myself the question,"Is it you Lord?" and obliged.
We practiced just twice before the 'grand meeting of churches' at the Sh. Rashid auditorium and strangely, i observed that i was able to play both instruments pretty well. I thanked the Holy Spirit and acknowledged his presence. It did not end there! On the day i was to appear on stage, i get a call from VOICE in the morning telling me that i would have to play with the maestro Benny Prasad himself! There was a strong urge in me to say no cause i definitely was not worthy to play with him of all people! Again, the Holy Spirit reminded me that in my weakness, He would definitely step in! I hesitatingly said yes.
Four hours before the meeting, i went up on stage and looked towards the 1500 seats in front of me and i felt the butterflies in the stomach. I said a simple prayer and prophesied over the evening. Benny and i practiced about three times and each time he pointed out that i was playing too many false notes. I asked Benny if he really wanted me to play, expecting him to graciously say no. to my surprise he said, " God will step in and all will be well". Those words blessed me oh so much! I was convinced that God was showing me his faithfulness. I was reminded of the scripture 2 cor 12:10 -"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong".
When i ultimately went up on stage that night, i had no stage fright, no apprehension about my playing and most of all, when i accompanied Benny on the flute, i just felt that i was just blowing air into the embouchure and moving my fingers on the keys when really it was the Holy Spirit that was doing the playing.
After the show, many came up to me and said that they were blest! My band buddies too said that i was 'somewhere up there' when i was playing :-) ... GOD BE GLORIFIED!
(Part two of my testimony will be posted tomorrow)
Being one of the contact persons for Bro. Johnson Sequeira’s ministry (www.jcilm.info) in Dubai, I get calls from many distraught people needing help. You will be amazed to know just how many marriages are on the rocks, how many people with suicidal tendencies, child problems, childlessness , husband/wife issues etc. etc. It is a wonder how many who have attended the retreats and repented have already received their miracle from the Lord!
Just yesterday, I received a call from the central jail in Dubai. It was a lady who has been sentenced 5 months in jail over money issues. Praise God that she had received the Lord’s touch just before going to prison and is now a favourite among the inmates, no matter what the nationality, caste or creed. In a matter of just a month, she has raised the hope of all the inmates! Many of them have already memorised the ‘white book’ of scriptures that was given to her during the retreats. I had tears in my eyes when I heard this ‘GOOD NEWS’! When someone receives a touch from the Lord, he/she can never be the same again! They take the mandate of ‘spreading the Good News to the ends of the earth' pretty seriously.
I believe that Jesus did not come on earth to be the founder of a religion. He has very clearly said that he is ‘not of this kingdom’. He came to restore our lost ‘citizenship’ of the ‘heavenly kingdom’. This kingdom was given to Adam and Eve to ‘rule’ over! Scrutinise the following scripture and it will all be clear to you.
GEN 1:26 to 28 - Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
DO I NEED TO SAY MORE?
So it is not a ‘conversion’ to a ‘religion’ but a conversion of the ‘mind and heart’ that is preached by Jesus. I have many non-christian friends who have read the 'Gospel Of John' and have understood Christ and his AGAPE LOVE (Sacrificial Love). If you belong to any Christian group, it is their fundamental duty to ‘pastor you into holiness’ because God demands it! HE IS HOLY and we have been made in His ‘likeness and image’. Our lives should be a ‘pursuit of holiness’.
So friends, don’t be embarrassed to give someone the GOOD NEWS of God’s saving grace through Christ Jesus. CHRIST DIED FOR EVERYONE (Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims etc. etc) ON THIS EARTH!
At lunch today, Altaf and i were reminiscing the days when we first arrived in the UAE only 23 years ago. Our two younger colleagues were listening in disbelief that so much could have changed in just over two decades (Although the major strides in construction happened in the last decade).
We talked about how the Trade Center was the only tall building dominating the skyline of Dubai, the non- A/C buses, the ‘Pathan’ taxis, the Satwa ‘London’ taxis, the 25 fils ‘abra’, the cute little juice shop in the spice market in Deira, the toilets on the dhows, the bars, the prices of drinks, cost of bachelor accommodation, the WWF TV show at the ‘Mal’lu’ canteen at the ‘abra’ station … and the list went on and on!
But then when I came back to my seat in the office, the Holy Spirit reminded me of where I was today as compared to those days when I first boarded the flight to Dubai. I came here an atheist in 1989. There was utter sorrow at home. My father was fighting cancer and could not work anymore. My mother was burdened with having to put in late nights at her sewing machine, trying to make ends meet to educate my remaining three brothers. There was the added expense of my father’s treatment which cost a lot. Everything was so horribly depressing! There was no peace even in Dubai! Even though I was a topper in Goa and 5th in the Mumbai University, my academics did not land me a job after 51 interviews! I had almost given up. I used to sit and cry on my bedroll when everyone was sleeping.
The change came when Bro. Edwin (From the English Charismatic Group, Dubai) challenged me to try Jesus! He told me to go ahead and challenge his ‘living presence’ just once! I still remember that I’d answered him, “God does not exist! Do not preach to me of God!”
But that night I was just not getting sleep. I tossed and turned. Something was bothering me. So I sat up and I challenged God! I said,”Jesus, if you are alive give me a sign that I can believe.”
When I’d finished saying that, my eyes rested on a thick white book that was glowing in the light from a streetlamp that was falling on it through a crack in the curtain! I pulled it out from the bookshelf and it opened to:
"I have carved you on the palm of my hand." Isaiah 49:15
The next day, I started circling the adverts on the newspaper as usual and looked up the map to chart my course. Those days, I would take the local bus (non-A/c) and distribute my CV all by myself! Suddenly the phone rang. Since my aunt, uncle and kids were already out of the house; I picked up the receiver and was surprised to hear an Englishman on the line. It was Mr. Peter Summersgill from BSBG. This was the British company that I’d visited and wished I could work there! Peter wanted me to start work that very afternoon!!!
All I remember after that ... I was on my knees sobbing and repenting and praising God!
Today, I look back and I can confidently say in St. Paul’s own words:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 KJV).
After our regular football game on a broad terrace of the Pajifond Hill, depending on the season, we would either stone the mango tree on top of the hill or collect cashew nuts to play the game called ‘BOT’TEANIM’. Many an evening was spent sitting on the cemetery wall of the Carmelite Monastery, counting the cashew nuts we’d collected from the trees on the hill. My friends and I were a daring lot and cemeteries did not bother us. Also, our parents believed that the monks who were buried in that cemetery were good souls and therefore they never forbade us from going there.
Some of you may not even have heard of this game! Well, to vet your curiosity, I’ll explain it to you. To play this game, it was necessary to find a ‘freak’ nut (basically, a very big nut) and fill the shell with melted lead to make it heavy (Incidentally, if you’ve grown up in Goa, you may have heard your elders call some fool a ‘Bot’to’ … Now you know why! They meant his head was full of lead!!!) Each person had to put down an equal number of the collected nuts ‘on edge’, on a line drawn in the mud. From that line a measure of 7 large strides had to be taken and another line was made on the ground. The idea was to throw the ‘BOT’TO’ at the line of nuts. The number of nuts dislodged from the line were yours to keep! There were days when I would come home with my pockets full of cashew nuts and then sadly, there were days when I would have none!
Now for a moment, let us consider the following scripture:
Romans 5:15(NLT) - For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.
By the above scripture we know that those of us who are not living by the knowledge of the above scripture and have not understood the ‘grace’ available through Jesus Christ , as Lord and Saviour, are like the ‘nuts on edge’, facing the ‘Bot’tes’ (Problems, lies, false promises, doubts, sickness, etc) that are thrown at them by the devil, who is out to wrench souls from returning to God.
If we have the WORD engraved on our hearts, no matter how big the problem, WE WILL overcome it! WE WILL NEVER BE KNOCKED OFF THE LINE OF TRUTH!
This is what my friend Sunil Sardessai had to say to me when I visited him in Goa – “Whenever you send me chocolates, before I open the parcel, I reflect on how lovingly you must have visited the supermarket, looked through the shelves for the particular brand and type of chocolates I like, paid for them, brought them home, wrote a meaningful note, wrapped it up and requested someone to carry it to Goa . Then I thank God for our friendship and I take delight in the sweetness of the chocolates”.
What made him say that? Well, he was upset when another common friend took the liberty of just taking a chunk out of the chocolate bar and started munching on it without any thought of any of the above sensitivities!
I think of what he said to me quite often. When does a person begin to think like the way Sunil does?
I have known the Sardessai family for many years now. I’ve experienced the simple lifestyle that the late Mr. Manohar Rai Sardessai and his family led. Even with all the accolades (both locally and internationally) he received for his literary genius, he maintained a very humble countenance. He always had a kind word for everyone and respected persons and not titles; Humanity more than religious practices. Although he could have opted to stay back in Paris after his university days at the Sorbonne, he chose Goa to be his home. His poetry is simple yet thought provoking! It would be right to say that Sunil, the son of this great man (A chip off the old blockJ), thinks the way he thinks because of his upbringing.
I attended the Altar Boys Sodality Annual Celebrations with my son Leroy yesterday. What struck me most in all of the festivities was the prize distribution ceremony. There were about seven children who were being awarded for the most number of masses served. Each of them had served almost 365 masses in the last year! (… A mass every day of the year!). The parents were also invited onto the dais and were applauded for their commitment to bringing up their children in the faith in the right manner.
It is very easy to pass this off with, “Well, these are parents who have nothing else to do” or, “Maybe these children study in the school that is located in the church compound” etc. But being a father to two growing children, I know how difficult it is to ‘make our children understand’ the importance of the Eucharist. In this day and age, it is very easy for us parents to give our children gifts such as the XBOX and the PS3 to get them off our backs so that we can watch our own TV soaps in peace( or go shopping!). Enough time is not spent with our kids to ‘hand down’ the traditions that our elders left with us. Even in my teenage days, I remember all the things I learnt from my grandmothers and grandfather. I’m cashing in on the stories they told me and the medicinal knowledge they imparted, to this day!
After yesterday, I decided it was time (Better late than never!) to make some important changes at home – Not to wrench the PS3 away from the kids but to make some quality time to spend with them !
(Just a small verse that I remembered from the pen of Mr. Sardessai:
Jednam ami khandeavelo khuris golleant ghatlo, tednam ami Jezuk khoreaninch marlo! – translation? “When we transferred the cross from our shoulders to the necklace, then we really crucified Jesus!”)
Have you ever looked at another and wished you were as successful as him? Have you ever copied the business idea of another thinking you will do well too? And were you really as successful ?
In Hebrews 12:1, I found these beautiful words: … ‘ let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us’. I am a great believer in the truth that God has set a race for each one of us and he has made every provision to sustain us through that race.
I’ve realized a lot from just observing people around me. I can see those that have started businesses because they thought they would make as much money as their other friend, have either gone bankrupt or are struggling!
I want to share with you the following exercise that I did many years ago that is surely going to help you discover your ‘set race’. It works best if you do it on paper because the mind is volatile and you cannot make a good analysis of what you write down.
Take a paper and fold it into two. On the left had side, write down all the things that you’re currently doing that you don’t like. On the right side, write down all the things that you’ve always longed to do.
Take another paper and fold it. On the LHS, write down how you are going to gradually pull out from things that you do not want to do. On the RHS, write down how you are going to chart a course to achieve the things that you want to do.
The above exercise will now act as a ‘map’ to achieve your GOAL. That will be your race. Of course, the exercise will work both for ‘wordly goals’ as well as ‘spiritual goals’ (Hope you incline more towards the spiritual goals!)
To illustrate the point, I will tell you about an important decision I made that, if incorrectly made, would have made me miserable throughout my life!
I was a born artist! Everyone in school knew that fact. When it came to choosing my career, my beloved uncle wanted me to become a doctor and my parents left me with the following advice – “Son, choose whatever will keep your heart at peace” (At that time, this advice was hardly helpful in making the right choice! I just did not have the knowledge how to decide!). On one hand I did not want to hurt my uncle, on the other hand I did not want to dissect dead bodies instead of painting them! Sharmila (A friend) came to me with the following advice (She was God-sent you know?) – “ Joseph, you’ve always been a great artist. I have joined the architecture course last year and I believe it will suit you perfectly! You can earn well as an architect as well as pursue your painting career if you wanted too.”
I decided right there what i wanted to do! ... I stood second in the aptitude test and got into the 5 year course. Today, it is 23 years and not a regret!
I hail from the village of Utorda in Goa. Although i lived all my life in the city of Margao, i would faithfully accompany my father to Utorda every sunday morning and return on the 5pm bus. I had the best of both experiences in my early years.
Today, i was reflecting on village life in Goa. Whilst in the cities, specially amongst apartment dwellers, there is little or no communication, in the villages, there is excess of it! Our little house had a neighbour on the left (Ann Florine), front (Romeo) and right(Adeline) respectively. A big field lay just behind the house. Whenever my grandmother would run out of garlic or sugar, she would walk right inside the kitchen of the right and left side neighbours and borrow what she wanted but with the neighbour in front, she would just go and sit on the stone seat outside and chat but never ask for anything over there. When it came to Adeline and Ann Florine, they too would walk right into our house whenever they felt like it and chat endlessly with my grandmom.
Why was it different with Romeo? Well, it is a question of how much access you give a person in your life. By now you must have visualised who comes unannounced, walks straight into your kitchen and lifts the lids off the pots to ses what you've cooked, right? He can do that because you've known him well and have given him ACCESS (to that limit) into your life. Remember the first time you met your 'steady'/husband? He kept his hands and lips to himself right? He wouldn't dare to even put his arm over your shoulder right?
So why am i writing all this? Well, by now you may have guessed!
WHERE HAVE YOU KEPT JESUS/HOLY SPIRIT IN YOUR LIFE. IS HE STILL SITTING IN YOUR LIVING ROOM?...OR WORSE STILL, IS HE STILL KNOCKING AT THE DOOR?