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Showing posts from May, 2012

The Journey 150

Heart Attack and Cancer are considered as the most fatal health condition that takes the lives of the maximum number of people. But I believe there is another silent killer which most of us fail to diagnose or in other words can also lead to this fatal health condition. This silent killer is known as “Depression”. The culture prevalent in the US can be termed as “depressive”. This is because according to the pharmacist and medical fraternity, the sales of depression medicines over the years have gone up by 400 percent.  According to Pastor Perry Noble of New Spring Church, United States is the most richest and the  most depressed county in the world. What is very disheartening about this whole issue of depression is that we as Christians do not address this  issue, as we are not comfortable dealing with such sensitive issue. I feel this may be because the culture that is prevalent in our church sometimes, does  not help to create an intimacy nor a sense of confidentiality among the fa…

The Journey 149

Read: 2 Kings 5: 1-27 Two days back as I was driving, I heard the a strange news reported by the Christian FM Music station K Love about a man who made funny self portraits of himself, so that his wife could laugh looking at the portraits. But why was he doing this. This  made me do some research and this research led me to a news about a man, a husband who is doing innovative ways, to help his wife fight cancer and also empower other woman to do the same. The name of this person is Bob Carey and his wife is Linda. They had moved to New York early this decade. A few years later Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. Linda overcame cancer but it recurred back again later.  This encounter with the cancer changed both the perspectives of Bob and Linda. As Linda underwent chemo therapy, both Bob and Linda, realized that life was hard, and sometimes dealing with life could also be hard and hence the best thing to do in order to face crisis and sickness is to deal with it in the most innova…

The Journey 148

Read: Mathew 26: 20-30 Today is  Memorial Day. Coming from India, especially from the state of Kerala, the Mallu’s have a state sponsored “Sabbath” other than Sunday. This state sponsored  Sabbath is known as “Hartal” or “Bandh”. This is the day when everyone goes to a relaxed mood, staying indoors watching some of the favourite movies on cable TV, and having some quiet time with the family over lunch. If there is no hartal or a bandh in a fortnight the Mallu's gets disturbed. Strange. But why did the hartal come in the first place?. It was a way of protest. But today, the whole concept of protest or what is the reason for protest is never taken into consideration. We don't want to remember, we only want to relax and enjoy. I think this is also becoming a feature in the life of the Americans especially  when the nation celebrated memorial day, in remembrance of all those soldiers who laid down their life for the sake of the nation. Today it is more about barbecue and partying a…

The Journey 146

Read: Luke 7:36-50 This week as we meditated on the theme “Transformation in my Parish” we were able to come across  different local church’s who were very distinct. They had an identity of their own, and they also tried to witness to the message of the gospel in their own unique ways. Yesterday  I came across another local church through the news report, who devised a unique ministry of helping cancer patients. The church is The Church of Nativity in Kansas City. This news item was reported by the Kansas City Star. What is unique about the church is the programmes that they organized a few Sunday’s back. The outreach ministry was called “Wig– Out”. What the members of the parish especially youngsters did was cutting their hair and giving the lockhead to the people who are suffering from cancer. For this unique project they not only enlisted the support of the members of the church, but also the members of the local community. As a result of this unique ministry programme, four hair st…

The Journey 145

Read: Luke 7:36-50
   Another church is now creating storms and getting nation wide attention in this country. This is because of a sermon delivered by its Pastor on Sunday May 13. The church- Providence Road Baptist Church at Maiden, North Carolina and the Pastor whose sermon is in the centre of controversy is Pastor Charles Worley. In his sermon, Pastor Worley told his congregation that people who have the same sex relationship orientation should be put in an electric fence in such a way that they cant get out and separating each of them on the basis of their gender. He proposed in his sermon that they should be provided food by dropping from above, and that since they don't have the ability of procreation, the population will eventually die. This radical stand of the Pastor has forced Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State to file a letter with the Internal Revenue Service with a request to examine tax exempt status given t…

The Journey 144

Read: Luke 7:36-50
                     A Church for Bikers. I was fascinated by this concept and the group, which was reported by the CBS Philly news yesterday.  A group of believers who loved Jesus and also their bikes or motorcycles. They are a very unique group. They are synonymous with leather jackets, tattoos on their bodies, well built physique and riding bikes that makes loud noises. But it is this unique group who have also a passion for the Lord and thus the BIKERS CHURCH. The way BIKERS CHURCH was formed is very unique. The Biker Church was formed by members of the Birmingham Chapter of Bikers for Christ. These believers who had a passion for their bikes and driving on bikes used to frequent a restaurant called Courtyard 25, in Vandiver, Alabama. One day the owners of the restaurant  approached the biking community  about using a vacant building to hold church service. In fact the most wonderful aspect of this incident is that, the day they were asked whether they needed the…

The Journey 143

Read: Luke 10:25-37
“Worship Service Suspended”. This was the news item that caught my attention yesterday. Worship service in a local church was suspended last Sunday, May 20. This local church which is about 60  miles from Philadelphia,  is known as  Hope Presbyterian Church, located  at 1189 Hope Road, Tinton Falls, New Jersey. Last Sunday was an entirely a different Sunday for the members of the church. The local Church decided to suspend worship service so that instead of worship, the members will participate in an event called  “ Be the Church”. This is an outreach ministry designed to help the neighbours and the community. The total strength of this church is about 93 members, which resembles one of the prayer groups in a Marthoma Parish. What the members did last Sunday, instead of worship was something different. The members were divided into different groups. One group of members spent their time with home bound people in the community, while others went to the homes in the n…

The Journey 139

Read: Luke 15: 11-31
         It is the dream of every parent and also children to graduate with a degree that gives them a good job,  a decent pay to sustain them for a life time. But today one of the greatest problem that the family and the young people face, is the growing debt that they have accumulated to do their studies. According to the news reports on an average every college student who graduated in 2011 has  a debt of about $25,250, while another 10% owes more than $54,000. This is basically because drastic cut in federal aid resulting into the colleges raising their tuition fees and other expenses to almost 25% in the last three years.  Along with the growing student debt, is the issue where  most of the students are not able get a good job along the lines of their education. Hence most of them get into jobs that are very poorly paid, or do not find jobs that are suitable to them. Thus we have a strange situation in this country where you not only have unemployed graduates …

The Journey 138

Read: Luke 15: 11-31 Today is a very big day as far as Facebook is concerned.  Facebook is going to listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market and will begin its trading today, under brand symbol of “FB.”  Many people are eagerly waiting to get hold of owning some of the Facebook stocks, which according to the news agencies, reported yesterday in the night that the price could be around $35 to $38 per share . Thus Facebook Inc.’s IPO is going to be the largest ever IPO, in the history of an Internet company. Facebook is planning to raise about $11.8 billion which is far ahead than Google which raised about $1.67 billion 2004 IPO. But behind this landmark event another event has also made headlines yesterday. The co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin, has renounced his  U.S. citizenship before the listing of Facebook IPO. This is called by many eminent lawyers in the country as a move that Saverin is doing so that he is able to reduce his tax bill. Saverin is not the only person who has renoun…

The Journey 137

Read: Luke 15:11-31 Lot of turbulent issues have surfaced in this country which is leaving lot of people confused, perplexed not knowing whether what is happening is right for the nation and for its people. Lot of my friends had written to me asking why am I silent on different issues that are discussed now not only by the common man, but people from all strata of the society and states. That is when I realized that this nation is going through some serious discussion on the way it is heading to. At the foremost is something that is related to what constitutes “marriage and family”. This came about when the President of United States last week had expressed  his support to same sex marriage. This has caused lot turbulent reaction from cross sections of the people. Some Church’s and its leaders have vehemently opposed the stand of the President. The second area that people are concerned is in the in the area of finance and economics, what is  being termed as the spiraling government deb…

The Journey 135

Read: Luke 18:9-14
Racist Believers?. We continue our journey on the meditation whether because of our commitment to Christ, our attitudes tend to be racist?. Do we agree or disagree with Martin Luther King’s statement which I quoted yesterday that “Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America”. Read about this incident that was sent to me by one of my friends. “A 50 plus year old white woman arrived at her seat on a crowded flight and immediately she said that didn't want that particular seat. The reason- The seat was next to a black man. Disgusted, the woman immediately summoned the flight attendant and demanded a new seat. The woman said "I cannot sit here next to this black man." The fight attendant said "Let me see if I can find another seat." After checking, the flight attendant returned and stated "Ma'am, there are no more seats in economy, but I will check with the captain and see if there is something in first class." About 10 min…

The Journey 134

Read: Luke 18: 9-14 Racist Believers?.  Martin Luther King had  made a very famous statement that “Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America”.  Sometimes looking at some of the attitudes of the some of the believers in  church, I  tend to agree with what Martin Luther King said. It was this statement that made me to do some research and I found an interesting news that  caught my attention. It was a  study done by Baylor University, published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science,  which is suggesting  that religion like Christianity may be a contributing factor in racial prejudice. Sounds strange isn't it? . Baylor University researchers found that people tend to go along with racist arguments after being exposed to Christian concepts like the Bible, Prayer, Christ, Sermon and so on. “The role of religion is paradoxical,” the Baylor report begins. “It makes prejudice and it unmakes prejudice.” Wade Rowatt, the Baylor Psychology and Neuroscience…

The Journey 132

Read: John 19: 25-27 Tomorrow is Mother’s day. A day when home’s, the church’s the family all have special functions, gatherings  and celebrations to honour the mother in the family. But has these celebrations done any good to the concept of motherhood? Looking back into history we will  understand how far we have moved away from the cause for which people had observed mother’s day. It was in 1914 that Mother’s Day was proclaimed in US as an official holiday, by President Woodrow Wilson. This was because of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who wanted to do something so that she could honor the social activism of her own mother. Her mother had founded Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, which raised money to supply medicine for the sick, provided help for mothers who were suffering from tuberculosis, and also volunteered to work as nurse for the wounded soldiers. But later, Anna Jarvis, was disappointed that Mother’s Day had become a day of celebration where only a card was exchanged and so she protest…

The Journey 131

Read: 1 Samuel 13, 20 A few months back I had written in my  Journey the plight of a Christian Pastor in Iran, Youcef Nadarkhani, who is awaiting  death sentence in Iran for alleged apostasy.  A new development has taken place which has been reported  by Fox News. The attorney and human rights advocate who represented the Christian pastor,  Mohammad Ali Dadkhah has also been sentenced to death in Iran in a case that has now sparked international condemnation. According to the news agencies he has  been sentenced to nine years in jail on the charges that he has acted against national security in Iran. Dadkhah has represented several political and human rights activists jailed since Iran's 2009 disputed elections.  Dadkhah has also reportedly been banned from teaching at universities or practicing law for 10 years. The American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, which has been working to secure the release of Nadarkhani, fears that the decision to jail Dadkhah puts the Christian pas…

The Journey 130

Read: 1 Samuel 20-26 My attention was drawn to a new movie that was released in US last week named “Avengers”, which is  based on the popular comic series, and it is supposedly drawing huge crowds . This is a movie that teams up all the iconic Marvel Super Heroes like the Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. The story of the movie revolves around  an emergence of an enemy named Loki, who threatens global safety and security, and hence the director of the international peace keeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. forms a team of the six super heroes to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. What caught my attention was the philosophy of the character of Loki. Here is a character who is brought up with the expectation and dreams that he was born to rule. Thus the characters of Thor and Loki in the movies is that they both were born to be kings. But unfortunately there is no kingdom for Loki, so he has to find one. Hence he is coming down t…

The Journey 129

Read: 1 Samuel 24, 26 A few days back some of my friends posted on Facebook a very good article about Sardarji’s. The article was very enlightening, and hence I felt I need to share. It  made  me dig deep into the authorship of the article and finally I found that article in a blog written by Amandeep Singh Virdi of Mumbai. I felt it was an eye opener, especially as I had a few Punjabi friends, and one who grew up in Mumbai encountering Sardar’s every day. Read along…….. We all love Sardar jokes. But do you know that Sikhs are one of the hard working, prosperous and diversified communities in the world!. An incident related to a  Sardar, will show how they are the true heroes today in our world and will also change the way we perceive the Sikhs. A few friends came to Delhi for enjoying their vacation. They rented a taxi for local sight-seeing. The driver was an old Sardar and boys being boys, these pals began cracking Sardarji's jokes, just to tease the old man. But to their surpri…

The Journey 128

Read: 1 Samuel 20
                  A diplomatic crisis seems to be brewing between China and US, even as the secretary of state Hilary Clinton is scheduled to meet her counterparts in Beijing later this week.  It concerns about a person named Chen Guangchen. But who is this Chen Guangchen?. Chen Guangchen is blind human right activist and a lawyer. His story can be a script taken out from a hit Hollywood movie. He could not read nor write till the age of 20, but today he has not only taught himself to read and write but  he has also learnt Chinese law. He used his legal skills to defend the victims of government oppression like poor peasants, the disabled, and women who were forced to have abortions in a country which had a one child policy. It was his opposition to the forced sterilization policy of the government that seems to have  made him an enemy of the state. He was arrested and convicted and after four years in jail, he was placed under house arrest. He could not communicate w…

The Journey 127

Read: 1 Samuel 19 Fox News and New York Times reported  last Friday an incident that went off board from the cause for which it was called for. National High School Journalism Conference  organized a conference on Anti Bullying in Seattle and the speaker invited was Dan Savage, who is a spokesperson and an advocate for anti bullying. But in a twist of irony, he is now accused of using that platform to hurt and make rude and bullying remarks on high school students who were Christians. He blamed and accused the Christian students with regards to the way they practiced their faith and slowly started using sarcastic remarks against Christian faith practices and the Bible. Offended by the way the speaker manipulated the platform that was given, and because he was not willing to respect the faith practices of others, a few Christian students boldly stood up and silently started walking out of the hall as the speech was going on. When Savage saw this silent protest,  he got more wild and sta…

The Journey 122

Read: Genesis 24 A new movie that depicts the stress of people who are engaged and want to get married has been released this week. The name of the move is “The Five-Year Engagement”. The movie is supposed to be a romantic comedy film written, directed and produced by Nicholas Stoller, starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt and the movie revolves round a story about a couple whose relationship becomes strained when their engagement is continually extended. This movie deals with  several dimension of the present day relationships, where couples have to  deal with so many issues like career adjustment, financial viability, relocation before they plunge into a marital life. Issues like how to bring about balance in both professional success and stable relationships are also concepts that are dealt. I think these issues are  not just subjects to be shown in a movie but these are real life issues. Today in the context of United States unlike in India, the preparations for a wedding takes plac…

The Journey 121

Read: Genesis 27 Adult Day Care Centre: One of the remarkable  aspect about the life in United States especially with respect to people who are aged is the mushrooming of the adult day care centre's. Some have a definite agenda with regards to the welfare of the aged while some may have opened these day care centre's more as another financial remuneration option. But whatever be the case, I think adult day care centre's are here to stay. What is important about these day care centre's is that they create a vibrant and social community for aged and the seniors so that they are able to enjoy their day while receiving specialized medical care and also the emotional support as they go through one of the difficult phase in life. Almost all the centre's have specially trained staff so that each persons complex health-related needs are taken care of. Moreover the primary family caregivers of these seniors like their children, will have peace of mind knowing that their agin…