Friday, November 26, 2010

The Success of passing it on : a Vision for Values

“ Above all else guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life” Prov. 4:23

Many times I look around and say to myself, what  in the world has changed? Is the change just all these myriads of gizmos flying around that we are all desperately trying to keep with? Is it just that the work culture has changed and so people don’t value what was valued a couple of decades ago? Is money really all that scarce that people work 14 hours a day and drive home exhausted in their BMWs not wanting to interact with a family deeply neglected? Have we moved away from the basics of  God first, family and then work order of priorities so much , and feel that we can  still sustain an equilibrium in society?

I believe we have a responsibility of passing the baton on well to the next generation : the baton of our beliefs and values that are timeless , not fickle or faddish but eternal. 


As I write I am thinking of my own children – one still a child and the other a man-child in his teens. There is so much for them to integrate into their hearts, their spirits and character – some of it needs to be taught, some caught, some by mere osmosis of being in the right surroundings. And I pray and hope that I will do this job well in my own children first .

There is a whole generation looking for role models and heroes. Will we give it to them? Or will they turn to insipid, immoral TV stars or greed filled business magnets? They are trying to suss out what life style they want. There is so much grabbing their attention out there – am I providing an attractive alternative – no not an alternative – am I living the abundant life in Christ in such a way that makes them realize there is no better “other” way.

The  "passing on " does  not happen overnight – it happens as we talk about the Lord Jesus and Kingdom principles : as we sit, as we walk, when we lie down. It’s a lifestyle – not something you wear on a Sunday morning and take off Sunday afternoon. Are we giving them a vision and passion for the Christian life? Several things come to mind and you can add to this list. 

So here’s what I am thinking :
GOD :  In a world that questions His very existence do I communicate the truth about who He is ? Do I help them cultivate a relationship with him that is not dependent on us as parents? Do I help them grow in faith? Do I teach them the scriptures and show them how to hide it in their hearts and call it to mind when guidance, comfort or strength is needed? Do I teach them to worship the Lord with all their heart, mind soul and strength? Do I teach them how to defend and share their faith? Do I give them the reason for the HOPE to which they have been called?
Do I teach them from a young age to serve in the church and give their talents to glory God first  and not leftovers ?

Education: This is a BIG one in my country. It is a God. This is a very important part of a student’s life however it is only a part and not the whole of their life.
Do I  teach my kids the principle of excellence – of doing whatever they do with all their might as unto the Lord ?
Do I teach them that it’s not winning and succeeding at all costs but that the means is as important as the method. So while others have learnt not share information or share their class work,  do I train our kids to be the opposite – to help the weaker ones, to be kind and giving.
Do I teach them to Seek first the kingdom of God and then everything will be added to them ? Do I give them opportunities to put this in practice and stretch their faith? Or do I pay lip service to this and on exam weeks allow them to skip church? In their Final year of school , college do I encourage them to work their study routine around their faith and church life ?
These are only a few thoughts, the list can go on.

 Life skills : Do I teach them the importance of keeping their word whether it is doing something they said they would do, or being on time to some place, or returning something they borrowed.
Do I teach them how to be trust worthy and honest in their friendships? Do I teach them to be compassionate and giving and not use people for their own purposes?
Do I teach them to conduct themselves with modesty , purity and humility . Do I teach them to look out for the less fortunate. Do I teach them to be fair minded and not prejudiced?  Do I teach them to keep their head and heart when everybody else is losing it – and to stand for what they believe in the face of peer pressure? 
Do I pass on the WHY of the belief and not just the practice which can so easily be reduced to a set of rules to be obeyed. Ah !! there is so much to give our children and enrich their lives other than a college degree.

 In order that they live this Christian life to the full with no compromise they need the Holy Spirit burning in their hearts so that they can be the Daniels , Joshua’s and Moses of today. And it is my prayer that they will learn to walk by the Spirit so that they will reap the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I do not wish for anything more than this for them. I know that if they have this, the rest will follow, not because of anything other than this : God is faithful to His word. When we trust in Him and put Him first , He does come through for us ( even when we are faithless as times). He said He will never leave us not forsake us and when we put our trust in Him, He will NEVER put us to shame. My confidence comes from  putting my trust in the Word of God.
 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward”
Heb 11:24-25.
SO my prayer is that I will be faithful in running this race well and passing on the baton to a generation that is waiting to take it.
I end with a song I wrote as a prayer. You can listen to it by clicking here
Breathe on me breath of God, fill me with life anew
And help me live this life, devoted to you
Breathe on me breath of God
Cleanse me from deep within
Give me a pure heart and keep me from all sin
Breathe on … me
Chorus
Touch my mind my heart and will
Breathe on me O God
Touch my mind my heart and will
Until I’m completely yours

Breathe on me breath of God; fill me with your power
To go into the world and tell of a Saviour
Breathe on me breath of God
Until my life is done
Help me to run this race bringing glory to your Son
Breathe on me
Bridge
To love you and serve you Is the greatest thing
To love you and serve you Jesus my King

 Navaz D’Cruz.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reflections - Sobriety

Reflections- sobriety

, 12 August 2009
In a day there are a zillion thoughts zooming inside my head, many of which are fruitless, futile and some even fanciful. Yet in all that twitter that goes on inside , there are nuggets that need to be pulled out and thought upon as they do not originate from me. Those are the thoughts that needs reflecting upon and the demands of daily life often prevent me from doing just that. But then every once in a while I get a hold of myself,my thoughts, my time and pin myself down to do one activity that tends to elude me- reflect.


Over the past weeks I have been arrested by my own thought processes that are blatantly arrogant, self willed and non God glorifying. To say I am shocked is in itself arrogance on display- because i lack a sober judgement of myself thus thinking myself to be better than I ought. Just this should be enough motivation to arrest all further thought processes... But am I called to now live in a cerebral vacuum of blankness?No.The Bible helps guide my thoughts, my mind to a more fruitful functioning- Phil 4:8:"Finally brothers, whatever is true , whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things" Having this as my plumb line, i carry on life's daily stuff catching hold of the useless twitter in my brain and pursing reflections that are true, right, pure, lovely and of "good report"


Navaz D'Cruz

Satisfaction

Reflections -Satisfaction

Tuesday, 06 April 2010 (rewritten 5th July 2011)

REFL ECTIONS -SATISFACTION

One morning as I sipped my coffee and skimmed through the newspaper reading about the lives of the rich and famous, and all the things they pursue with passion, it made me think about LIFE. We all want to be satisfied in some way or another, be it having a family, a career, a hobby, accumulation of wealth. Different things give satisfaction and pleasure to different people. As I look around me I find the lines blurring between how many Christians view life and how the world around us views life.  Where do Christians look for satisfaction and fulfilment? Are we very different from the world?

There is a world view amongst Christians today that says, “My satisfaction and my self-fulfilment is the most important thing. . For me to be happy and satisfied is of foremost importance” There is a view that promotes the idea that this is the reason why God has made us. Then I contrast this view with what I read about the great heroes of faith who have gone before and even those who are with us in this present age, and think to myself - what gave them satisfaction? Why were they willing to endure such hardships? Why were they willing to go to ends of the earth often with little or no worldly comforts to cushion the journey? Was it easier for them than it is for us now? What is it that marks them out as a cut above the rest? What fuelled their passion and vision and mad them some of the happiest and satisfied people on earth? They did not have the trappings of modernity to ensnare and distract them, some may argue to their own defence.

I look to the Bible and
find no biblical basis for this modern trend of thought. I find quite the contrary - Jesus spoke of denying self (Matt 16:24), laying down of one's life ( John 15:13), going the second mile (Matt 5:41), keeping our thoughts on things not of this world (Col 3:1-2), living as strangers and aliens (1Pet 2:11), being of this world though not of it (John 17:16). These are to quote but a few. The Westminister Catechism puts it well: ”The chief end of man is to enjoy God and glorify HIM forever”



I think there in ONE thing that can sum up the attitude that was characteristic of all these fine men and women.  To put it in Jim Elliot words: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose. The great Apostle Paul said for me to live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil 1:19). The Psalmists echoed similar convictions when they wrote: One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord (Ps 27:4).... How lovely is your dwelling place O Lord (Ps 84:1). And in your presence there's fullness of joy and your right hand are pleasures forevermore.


This makes me think... that if I want to live a life to the full, fully satisfied, and fulfilled, then this is what I should aim to get sorted out first - everything will follow. Everything finds its rightful place when we first find our satisfaction in Christ alone. Many have put the cart before the horse (to their own peril) - looking for satisfaction in things that are temporal and often not in the centre of God's will for their lives. In fact am I not often guilty of using God to get “the stuff” and then giving Him the left over’s (if any)?


Am I saying that I should live an ascetic life? Far from it! We are called to an abundant life. But I also realize that everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial (1 Cor. 10:23). I need to find out what is beneficial for me according to the Lord's will for my life. These were the choices our heroes of faith made. They could have chosen the pleasures of this world, self satisfaction and fulfilment as the world defines it(and as many justify it by adding... "And still serve God"). No - they chose the straight and narrow road of radical obedience uncompromisingly knowing that abundant life and true satisfaction is only found on this path. They understood that broad is the path that leads to death ( not satisfaction as the devil tricks us into thinking) but narrow is the path that leads to life. They did not consider a little career break, the flat LCD, the extra holiday home, pet hobbies, as things of worth in comparison to doing the Master's bidding. They had indeed found the pearl of great price and were willing to give up everything to  go after HIM. The test would be that if my life was stripped away of all material comforts and pleasures would I still be a happy and satisfied person?



When I reflect upon this, my heart is stilled, settled and satisfied because I have found and treasure the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE. And you know what? I find that when I  live with this perspective I see God’s blessings upon me more than I can ask or imagine. I find that I have a joy and deep satisfaction that this world cannot give or take away.That is the reward for a child of God who delights in His presence and finds satisfaction in Him alone. Jesus has promised that, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37)The journey is not all that hard after all and I am able to say with confidence “My boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places" (Ps.16:6).

Navaz D' Cruz

Reflections on Serving

REFLECTIONS ON SERVING

"the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matt 20:28
Over the past few months I have found myself thinking about this a lot. What is it to really serve as Jesus did - in thought, heart, action, and motive? No doubt the greatest model of servant hood and servant leadership is found in our Lord Jesus alone. He is the best role model we can ever have. He also knew that in laying down his life, many sons would be raised to glory. So what can I learn? Here are a few thoughts I have been pondering upon and are by no means exhaustive.
  •  Everything Jesus did, He firstly did to please his father in heaven and bring Him glory.  
So I ask myself : when I serve, who gets the glory? Is my motive that of pleasing God or drawing attentions to myself, to win the approval of others, to win the praises of men, to promote myself? It’s good to stop and do a reality check here rather than find everything has been burnt up on the day of reckoning and I escape by the skin of my teeth.
  • He served in humility knowing He was loved by the Father. He did not serve in a condescending manner. Nor did He serve to gain the Father's approval.
So I ask myself :Do I serve to get the attention of those above me or to gain their  approval and a few brownie points?
  • He served knowing the people would be ungrateful eg) of the ten lepers only one returned to give thanks. He did not serve so that people would publically acknowledge Him and thank Him. He served out of love and compassion and not out of duty and compulsion.
So I ask myself: How do I react when I do not get acknowledged or thanked for all my hard work and effort?
  • He served not wanting position or recognition He slipped away in the crowds when they wanted to hail Him King. He washed the feet of the disciples taking on the very form of a slave. He did not go through an identity crises .
So I ask myself When I serve am I willing to serve with the same fever and zeal behind closed door where no one sees me, nobody BIG notices? Am I willing to serve in the background without a title my name? Sometimes it is easy to serve as the one “in charge" with the title and recognition. But the rubber hits the road when I have no title no position, when I have to play second fiddle to someone else and I am not the Piper calling the tune. Can I then serve with equal fervor and devotion as unto the Lord?
  • He did not look out for his own interest - in fact he He laid down His life for his friends. He fed the 500o thousand inspite of being worn out and tired. He put their needs before His own. In a world that teaches promoting the power of number UNO over community and others how do we handle Jesus’ teaching which is to love your neighbor as yourself and be your brother’s keeper?
So I ask myself :Am I absorbed in manipulating people, conversations, situations so that  I appear good and even better than others? Do I pass subtle hints of how better and how gifted I am? Am I large hearted towards others in wanting to see them grow, help them to grow and use their gifts or do I subtly put others down or refuse to acknowledge them or make room for them lest my position gets threatened? Am I willing for others to supersede me and go beyond where I will ever go?  Jesus told his disciples that they would do greater things than what he did. He wanted that for them. Do we have a large heart and a generous spirit? Remember everything we do and think is being watched by our Father in heaven and one day He will come to reward and judge us. How will we stand on that day?
Do others flourish under our care or are they stifled and only allowed to grow up to a point that does not threaten my position? This is a big snare in this generation and in our culture.
We are of a Kingdom that is not of this world and is not governed by its value systems. We march to a different drum beat. We are strangers and aliens on this earth. The world says grab – God’s way is to give.  The world says be the boss – God’s way is to serve. The world says look after number one – God’s way is to look out for others interests. The world says promote yourself –  God’s way is to  not think more highly of yourself than you ought to.
When we begin to live like this the Lords Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven and Jesus will reward with crowns that will not spoil or fade. We must live with Eternity in our hearts – then the temporary fortunes and fame and name will not ensnare us. We will be free to serve without strings attached – free to serve not enslaved by sinful desires but as servants of the MOST HIGH GOD!!.
Navaz D’Cruz