Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Plumb line- Part2




Part 2
If you walk into a book store today and you will find row upon row of books written by Management gurus spouting mantras of how to be at the top of the ladder, how to better yourself, how to look good in the eyes of the boss, how to get noticed, how not to hold yourself back but assert yourself and on and on and on. It’s all about winning, how not to be a failure etc, etc. The pressures to conform are very real. Many have shared of how they do all the hard work and the lazy but cunning guy shoots ahead because he has mastered the art of self promotion and assertion. Then one wonders whether walking the straight and narrow helps?  Have you felt this way?






I find it very helpful to get my bearings, to align my heart against the Plumb line of the Word of God. Why? I do this because I am utterly convinced that the only enduring, flawless, timeless and dependable wisdom is found in the Bible alone. It has stood the test of time. The Word of God perfect- It instructs me that God is sovereign in full knowledge of how my life will unfold. It also instructs me that this world and all that it offers is temporary and passing. So with this in mind I carry on my quiet meditation and pen my thoughts on the following passage below.

 Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Verse 3: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. This is such an area of temptation. I need to keep a guard over my heart and motives knowing the heart is deceitful above all else.  Every now and then it’s good to take a pit stop and take stock of what is going on in the boiler room of the heart. If I don’t, busyness gets me or the “success” of what I am involved in can cloud/dull and even blind me to what’s going on, on the inside. Jesus was always interested in what goes on in our hearts. Everything will be tested by fire (1Cor3:12-15). So I would be wise to stop in my tracks every now and them and do a heart check up – allowing the Holy Spirit to shed His light, wash and clean me – which He does with much grace and love.

Selfish ambition- Doing things that promote self interest, self glory. Doing things that get me recognition,  for my glory, promotion and elevation in the eyes of men. Often this would involved putting others down, even subtly, ignoring others peoples gifts and talents so that only “I” get noticed. The object with which I conduct myself is that “I” increase and that “I” get glory . This is nothing but “I-dolatry”.

Vain conceit- The dictionary tells me the synonyms of conceit are, egoism, egotism, narcissism, vanity .  The dictionary tells me vanity is being inordinately proud of one's appearance, possessions, or achievements, given to ostentatious display, especially of one's beauty, worthless, senseless or futile. It is the very opposite of humility. It’s thinking that only I can do the job well. What is the fall out of this? We don’t train others to do our job. We think we are indispensible. We get very critical and condemning of other peoples efforts. We don’t delegate. We are unable to encourage and appreciate the baby steps others take to grow their gifts. It also shows a lack of humility to realize that all our gifts and talents are “Grace Gifts” that we don’t deserve in the first place. We owe it all to God and need to hold these things lightly.

V3b- Rather, in humility value others above yourselves – This gives me the antidote to the first half of the verse. How do I cure myself of this malady of selfish ambition? By  practising the very opposite.
Firstly, being humble- how does humility express itself? In this case – considering others better than yourself and not looking out tomy own interests. How does this work out?
Others better than your self- this will put the breaks on self exalting thought patterns that constantly assail our minds. It will nudge us to look for ways to appreciate others. It will nudge us to release others, give others a chance to use their gifts.

Verse4:  4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Look not only to your own interest but also the interest of others. This strikes a death blow to self ambition. When we put others betterment before our own – we cannot exalt ourselves. We can only do one or the others. If we all had this attitude – it would breed so much growth for everyone .(including yourself because someone else will be looking out to your interests well) It will breed an atmosphere of acceptance, grace and security. It will breed an atmosphere of encouragement and appreciation and an atmosphere of wanting to mentor others so that they progress and get on in their walk with God and all that God has called them to with no strings attached.

It will mean that sometimes we have to let go of our lofty ideals/standards for the sake of unity, for the sake of brotherhood and oneness in Spirit ( without compromising your principles). But when you look at the big picture, when you look from Eternity’s perspective it won’t seem that ideal at all.

Verse 5-11. Gives us the grand key and perspective to everything.  The way down is the way up. As you lower yourself to the point of nothingness, God comes bursting in and does the very thing you sought after but in a wrong way. Jesus was offered  power, and fame when tempted in the dessert. But he overcame selfish ambition and lowered himself to serve the interest of His Father in heaven thus serving us sinful men. The end result it not only glorious exaltation to the highest place but He has been given the highest Name – the name above every other. Satan would like to deceive us into thinking we need to do this for ourselves – how wrong!!! When we leave things in the hands of a sovereign God – He works out things for our best, ALWAYS. 

When life rattles me, this is one of the passages of scripture I take refuge in and find great solace, comfort and assurance. I leave you with these thoughts – may you know rest in knowing His way- aligning your heart to the plumb line of this scripture.

Navaz
Jan2012


Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Plumb line- Part 1


Part 1



As the year began there was  the obvious talk of goal, resolutions etc .I found myself being drawn to two passages in the Bible, one of which I will mention today. This is the famous passage of Philippians Chapter 2.  I find that there is a constant competition from various quarters, fighting to get my attention, mind space, affections of the heart and my devotion. I find it of great value  to align my heart to the plumb line of scripture as my point of reference. I find it brings balance and peace.











As I have been meditating on this passage I found myself asking myself many questions and reminding myself of many truths I have heard being taught over the years. I found this of great value. So, what is it that I have been meditating upon?

Allow me to share some of my quiet thoughts with you.
Phil2:1-2. 1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Verse 1: “If you have any encouragement..” “If”??? This is obviously a rhetorical statement that does not an answer to justify it. If is stating the obvious – of course I have received encouragement. What one may ask?
·       Any encouragement in Christ” – here is what I have received – my sins have been forgiven – past, present and future. I have a relationship with God where I can talk to him and He talks to me. My salvation is secure. My prayers are answered. Since I belong to him, He fills me with His Holy Spirit who empowers and energizes me to live a Godly life.
·       “Comfort from His love” – is that even a question that needs asking? Of course I Have been comforted knowing His faithful love will never leave me. His love is complete and unconditionally accepting. His love for me took Him to the cross. Yes I am comforted by His intense love for me that is unending and pure.
·       “If any fellowship with the Spirit” –Oh yes!!!The Holy Spirit unlocks the doors to untold mysteries, abilities thus tapping into the power of God in order  for me to live the Christian life: to conquer temptation and sin, to release the stranglehold of darkness of sickness and so much more.
·       Tenderness and Compassion –Paul is appealing to a minimum level of charity that ought to be in very Christian heart. Am I not capable of some measure of compassion and tenderness? If so, the following is something I can do.

Since I have been the recipient of the above it surmises that I am able to the following : to be like minded, having the same love, being one in Spirit and purpose. This is an action packed, loaded passage. I’d like to think about it phrase by phrase as I seek to align my heart to this plumb line of truth.

·       Like minded- Does this mean “uniformity”, becoming a clone? Does this mean there is no room for originality? By no means! Grace celebrates unity in diversity.
So what does it mean? Put in another way I think it means being of “one vision/intent”. It’s not pulling in different directions, in other words, having one goal, working together toward a common purpose. It’s a willingness to put aside the much exalted and celebrated individualism for a common good. It’s willing to compromise wisely, its willingness to let go, to give ground to another’s point of view or way of doing things.

·       One Spirit – Paul is really emphasizing this maybe because it was a very real issue for the Philippians. Is it not one today too? This means being united – not divided over issues i.e when a leader says something about being involved in a certain project/vision , we are quickly able to  align our minds, wills and heart to support the leader in that call, not getting all “super spiritual” and saying, ”I’ll have to pray about it”. A church or organization will make very little progress with that attitude in the ranks.This I think has more to do with whats going on inside my heart - my attitudes.

·       Purpose- the same as above but its attitude with the hands and feet. Am I running in a different direction or am I putting my weight behind that one purpose therefore being effective?

There is so much food for thought here. But I’d like to draw this part to a close quoting one of my favourite authors, Charles Swindoll.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

I would like to play that one string well making sure it aligns itself and is in tune with the Word of God.

Navaz.
Jan2012




Friday, January 6, 2012

WordOfGraceChurch: A Preamble for worship

WordOfGraceChurch: A Preamble for worship: During our time in Mumbai with the family over the Christmas break, I made a wonderful discovery as I was rummaging through my old boxes of...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Think and Thank



The New Year has a tradition of reflection, resolutions, new resolve and renewal of flagging resolutions of the past. We’ve all been there, done that!

At our church and personally, we have not been exceptions to this – we like to take stock of the year gone by and cast vision for the one that is just upon us.


This year we attended the midnight service at our home church, Living Word Chruch, Bandra , Mumbai. We spent the last few hours of the old year worshipping and thanking God for all that transpired in the year gone by.

Then the young dynamic preacher, Sydney Nevis stood up to give his last exhortation for the year. His motif  phrase was :"Think and Thank!” ( I owe this title to him). I thought to myself – “brilliant”! We have done this exercise over the years of writing a list of 10 things to thank God for in the year gone by – but his catch phrase, did catch my attention. I thought to myself how true it is that often thanklessness comes out of thoughtlessness. Because we don’t stop to think – think about how much we are blessed- we fail to thank.

The Bible is full of commands about giving thanks. The Bible is also full of warnings of not giving thanks. We are commanded to “  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ.” (1Thes 5:16-18). 

 What does this do for us? We stop focusing on ourselves. We stop worrying. We see a sovereign God who is always in charge and in control. We see a way out through prayer and supplication.

 

Amongst the things we were asked to reflect, think and thank, was thanking our family members who are often last on the list simply because we selfishly take them for granted. So we got up from our seats and went to family members present to thank them for various things and what they mean to us. A wonderful atmosphere of family and gratitude filled the air and we brought the new year in.

 

So what can I think and thank God for? A lot of it has already been mentioned in our family newsletter  ( CLICK HERE)which you  can read for yourself.

 

However I want to thank God for family and faithful friends.


  •  I am thankful for Colin, my husband ,for being my best friend, for being this unique person who has brought much joy in my life. Our journey together has been a great adventure!
  • I am thankful for Andrew, my first born, who is a loving, cheerful gifted soul.
  • I am thankful for Jessica, who fills our heart with delight. She is caring, generous and thoughtful besides being a little too clever for her age!!

 

  •  I am ever grateful to my parents : My dad who was a  principled man full of wisdom and kindness . I want to thank my mum for her example extraordinaire – in being resolute, disciplined, planned, sacrificing, Godly and hospitable. ( and so much more...)
  • I want to thank God for my brother, Hormus – who though 1000s of miles away keeps an eagle eye on his younger sis swooping down to lift us up when in need. What would we do without you? If it were not for his timely help – we may not have had Jessica with us today. ( but that is another story). Along with him I want to thank my wonderful sister in law – Bunny, who has been a great friend and completely supportive.

 

  • I want to thank my father in law –Vincent, whom I called 'dad' much to his delight, for accepting me and being kind to me. I want to thank my mother in law, 'mum'- Helen: who has been more a friend than the  stereotyped wicked mother in law. She has given me a belly full of laughter on many an occasion with a unique wit and comedy. Her warmth and hospitality never made me feel an outsider.

 

  • I want to thank all my sisters in law and brothers in law, Yvonne and Savio, Fiona and Aubrey, Marianne and Rohan for just being a warm loving accepting family – for many cherished memories. (this may all sound rosy – let me assure you we have had a share of arguments and misunderstanding like every normal  family would)
  • I am thankful for the nephew and nieces: Joshua,Rachel and Sara for being good cousins to our children.
  •  I want to thank my friends – through childhood, the teens and adulthood. Thank you to those of you who have stood by us and encouraged us and believed in us. Thank you for your prayers, your words of encouragement, your love, your phone calls, and e mails.

 

  • Last but not the least, I am thankful to Jesus our Saviour from whom all the above blessings flow. He is the author of my life and with His hand upon me , my life would be wasted. I am thankful for His countless blessings.

 

So as I think and allow thankfulness to well up within me I want to end by quoting Matt Redman’s wonderful song titled "10,000 Reasons".

 

 Chorus:
Bless the lord oh my soul

Oh my soul

Worship his holy name

Sing like never before

Oh my soul

 Worship you holy name
  
 Verse1
The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
 Verse 2
You're rich in love and you're slow to anger
Your name is great and your heart is kind
For all your goodness i will keep on singing
10,000 reasons for my heart to find
Verse 3
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Soon my soul sings your praise un-ending
10,000 years and there forever more

Navaz
Jan2012