Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Loving the things that God loves - Longing For Yerushalaiym

I was thinking of Yerushaliym the eternal city of God, our common destiny, our connected story. Oh how I love the city of God and as I began to dwell on it I was asking myself why do I love this city so much. The answer is simple you love all the things that God loves. Yeshua expresses His love for Yerushaliym when He says

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Though His own city has been unfaithful, He hasn't turned away, He has set His love and will return to take His possession and because of this eternal promise from our Lord so is our longing connected to His. In Psalm 122 we are urged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, saying those who love the Lord will pray for its peace and its prosperity. Though it is a far fetched idea in terms of human strength and will, yet we are urged to pray for it as watchmen on its walls. We continue to see the longing in the scriptures in Psalm 137 of the Babylonian exiles for their homeland and Jewish thought today still includes this yearning:

"By the rivers of Babylon…we wept, when we remembered Zion…If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." .

Those who love Yeshua love the things that He has set His heart upon. His heart is upon Yerushalaiym. Mysterious feelings grip the Judeo-Christian & Jewish hearts at the very mention of this city's name? Irrespective of the reasonings the hearer is a patriotic citizen of a country other than the state of Israel, and whether or not that Non-Jewish or Jewish person agrees with the actions and policies of current Israeli leadership, the name of Yerushalaiym triggers an immediate emotional response. Although some might deny it, the consciousness of one's Jewish identity seems to be tied somehow to Jerusalem and all that it symbolizes. Far more than a mere geographic site, Jerusalem is the "heartbeat" of God's ancient people, no matter where in the world they reside. Jewish history and Jewish destiny are irrevocably and forever interwoven with those of Jerusalem.

The ancients considered Jerusalem the center of the earth. The site of the Holy Temple is there upon Mount Moriah; and in the bedrock of that summit lies a large, flat rock called Even-hashetiyah, purportedly the base and center of the world. The ancient Jewish sages said of this rock: "And it was called the Foundation Stone because the world was founded on it, for Isaiah the prophet said, 'Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone…a costly cornerstone of sure foundation.' (Isaiah 28:16. We also know that this foundation stone is Yeshua Himself.

"From where did He [God) create it [the world]? From Zion, for the Psalmist sang, 'Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth.' (Psalm 50:2)

"And when the Holy One, blessed be He, shall renew the world, He shall renew it out of Zion. For Isaiah prophesied: 'And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.'" (Isaiah 2:2)

In the third century, Jewish sages called Jerusalem the middle of the earth, saying, "…the land of Israel is the middle of the earth. Jerusalem is the middle of the land of Israel. The Temple is the middle of Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies is the middle of the Temple. The holy ark is the middle of the Holy of Holies. and the Stone of Foundation is in front of the Holy of Holies."

They also wrote, "The Almighty created the world in the same manner as a child is formed in its mother's womb. Just as a child begins to grow…so the world began from its central point and then developed in all directions. The 'navel' of the world is Jerusalem, and its core is the great altar in the Holy Temple.

"This world is like unto the human eye, for the white is the ocean which 'girds' the earth; the iris is the earth upon which we dwell; the pupil is Jerusalem, and the image therein is the Temple of the Lord. May it be built speedily in our day and in the days of all Israel. Amen!"

Medieval maps show Jerusalem as the center of the universe, calling it Umbilicus Mundi (Navel of the World). There is a world map with Jerusalem at its center attached to an ancient Latin manuscript of the Book of Psalms (c. 1250). The map illustrates Psalm 74:12, "For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth [italics ours]."

Aside from geographical considerations, we see Jerusalem as the "center" of the world in that it is central in God's plan for the human race. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), we are praying for the place, for its people who live there and elsewhere, and for its prophetic destiny and its fulfillment in the grand story that God is revealing.

Ultimately then, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for the kind of peace that only God can bring—the peace which, when it comes, will produce the end to wars and strife. This is the only lasting peace, the peace of Jesus the Messiah, a right relationship between God and all humanity. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for that which God wants most of all to bestow upon it—Himself. Prayer for the peace of Jerusalem includes prayer for His coming and for His Kingdom.

To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to weep over her with the Lord Jesus and to say with Him as recorded in Luke 19:42, "If thou hadst known…the things which belong unto thy peace!" It is also to know that although these things are hidden from Israel as a nation right now, they are being discovered and received by individual Jewish people; and it is our privileged duty to tell them—until the time when the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 will be fulfilled. Then God will pour out His Spirit upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and they will recognize the Messiah, and as Paul wrote in Romans 11:26, "…all Israel shall be saved."

I want to end with strong emotions from the chorus of the song "Yerushaliym Shel Zahav" the song mentioned in one of my older post. with the english translation on the left.

Jerusalem of gold
And of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a harp for all your songs

"Yerushalayim shel zahav
Veshel nechoshet veshel or
Halo lechol shirayich ani kinor

Blessed are those who love the things that Yeshua has set His love upon. May those who pray for Yerushalaiym be blessed and prosper.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Mayim Chaim - "Streams of Living Waters"

I have attached another song from one of favorite messianic worship singing group called "Zemar Levav", I have mentioned them before in one of my older posts. This one is based on a traditional Israeli worship song called "Mayim Chaim" - "streams of living waters". Let us remember that He came to give us life and life in abundance and that life is in Him alone. Enjoy the video of Zemar Levav singing at a Messianic conference.

It is the our deepest longing & expectation for every believer in Yeshua awaiting His return on Zion!

Blessings & Shalom,

Song of Moses - The Lord is my strength and my song

One of the amazing images of my God and savior for me personally He standing between the children of Israel in flight and the pursuing armies of Egypt. The Bible says and the Lord stood between them as pillar of fire, terrifying the Egyptians with His drawn sword and on the side of the Israelites He stood as the light and shelter so His children could pass through in safety.

No doubt after this amazing rescue, Miriam and the women break out with their harps dancing unto the Lord. And in Exodus chapter 15 the song of Moses rises out in praise from the Israelite camps. I have attached a video here for you to worship & enjoy!

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Christmas Tree & The Polar Express

We came back from vacations but fortunately (bcos of the time crunch) before leaving we had put our Christmas tree up...and boy we are glad we did it a month ago. Our tree is our best one so far! I got some time today to take some pics and video to give you a preview of Isaac's favorite Christmas train "The Polar Express" which made it in time at the Kurien household to replace the Santa's express. We were able to incorporate the world of Disney and Pixar along with the traditional classics, though not scaled into the detailed shots take a look at the video I shot along with some pics below.

Have a Merry Christmas & May the joy of the Lord surround us as usual.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Love Psalm - Ata Tzuri

Overwhelmingly and passionately O Lord I am in love with you,
Things about you and your fame I have know through ages,
But you reveal to me more and more & more I am in love with you,

Your beauty and Your love surpasses everything,
In love you cast your eyes upon me,
Even time to time looking upon my name inscribed on your palm.

I lay at your feet like Mary did washing your holy feet with her hair,
My devotion comes to you like that perfume rising up to your throne.
No one else can take the place that you have in my heart.

You are my blessed Prince of Peace, my Sar Shalom,
You are my everything, my inheritance and my portion,
O intimate Yeshua, you are my ata tzuri, my rock, my tower & my shelter.

You who go before me in battle; In ardent devotion and love I follow,
You set me on high places because you said: "I have set my love on you."
But you set your love on me first, so I am in love with you.

Restoring beauty from ashes is what you alone can do,
You are the song of my heart, you are my salvation.
What can I give you back, my heart alone for I am in love with you.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In The Spirit of Peace - Walking In The Footsteps of Abraham

As we are in the Christmas season I am highly reminded of the reason for the season, it is about the ardent expectation of the return of the Prince of Peace or our Sar Shalom Yeshua Ha Masiha. Talking about peace  conflicts are going all round the world and it is also an important time to reflect that blessed are the peace makers who stand in the gap as intercessors and try to resolve problems where there is a conflict. Recently DAS send me a TED video with William Ury who co-founded Harvard's Program on Negotiation and co-founder of a NGO called International Negotiation network whose primary focus is in ending civil wars and terrorism. The talk is amazing as he retracts the TED audience back to footsteps of Abraham who was a symbol of hospitality and a blessing to the nations. Here is the video for your knowledge.

Though Ury brings out a wonderful message and bless his heart for the efforts, my opinion from the spiritual stand point is in the middle east is peace can only return with the return of Yeshua. Does it mean that we are not to pursue peace?  The answer is absolutely "yes" we are to strive for peace, we are to be peacemakers and with God's wisdom bring in the third side where we can sit like the Bushmen in a circle and talk and not leave till the issue or conflict  is resolved. At least that is how believers should treat each other.

Apart from that what I take away from the talk is yet again with people from different worldview the process is similar but there may be principles that we may not see completely eye to eye but the effort of creating a dialogue should continue; creating a frame work of reference of Abraham's path as Ury quotes is very helpful and an effort to replace animosity to trust worthiness. Another observation I make from the talk which Ury did not bring out is Abraham in his journey walked side by side with God. In fact God considered Abraham to be his friend and as his nomadic journey spanned from Ur to Cannan, he avoided conflict whenever he could, his tents were open to strangers so they could be refreshed, he rescued the weak and he even fought when needed for justice.

Blessed are the peacemakers who stand and walk in the footsteps of Abraham. But a reminder too we also walk more in the footsteps of one far greater than Abrham, who became our salvation and strength. Let us then be friends of God and pursue peace.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Friday, December 03, 2010

Spheres of Influence - A Cup Bearer Builds A Wall & A King Inspires A Technology

I have been thinking about this topic for quite some time now, it seems God brings us into times and positions for reasons, how we get there, may be through trials, hard work, shaping of life's twists and turns but when we are in God's plan and have been invited by Him to allow Him to be the navigator of our stories, He makes sure we do get there and when we get there it is usually for making a difference, being a difference maker and bringing Him glory.

From the topic of the post you must have guessed who I am going to talk about. Its Nehemiah who was the cup bearer to the Persian King. Enslaved under the Persians, Nehemiah was one of the Jews who made a political career but ended up being the trusted cup bearer. Now the job of cup bearer doesn't seem to be that glamorous added to the facts he could die if there were schemers in the court who might try to poison the king. Nevertheless Nehemiah had the the ears of the king and his favor. When Nehemiah hears the plight of the people who have returned to Jerusalem the Holy City, that they were attacked and unprotected, Nehemiah  sets his mind to do something about it.  Before that he prays to God that the Lord gives him favor before the king and when he presents his request to the king, the king not only grants him his request to go and help build a wall for his people but also gives him all the materials, supplies and help that he may need.

Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem and starts building this wall. In spite of opposition he perseveres and accomplishes something important. Nehemiah's contribution was that he build a wall. Just a wall! but I think his sphere of influence was great, he not only protected the then inhabitants of Jerusalem, but that ushered in the resettlement of the Jewish people. Exactly 483 Jewish years  later Jesus who rides into Jerusalem among the shouts of "Hosanna to the King" must have looked at these walls and thought in His mind, "Well done my servant Nehemiah, I am pleased with you". Nehemiah's sphere of influence reached far down into many generations, he is a spectacular example of someone who are in the will of God in their small sphere and have a great impact on history.

On the same vein I want to relate here the story of Harald Blåtand King of the Danes who ruled between 935 to 985 AD. He was  brought up in a Christian home and was encouraged to make a difference and be an influencer in the sphere of domain that he was called to be as a  Christian king. Harland Blåtand became a Christian at the age of 25 and was influential in sending missionaries all across Europe. The Jelling stone inscriptions in Denmark are a reminder of that. Of these stones the larger stone with its runic writings is said to be erected by Blåtand in the memory of his parents. On one side of the stone is the image of Christ and on the other side translated from Runic it states "Harald, king, bade these memorials to be made after Gorm, his father, and Thyra, his mother. The Harald who won the whole of Denmark Sweden and Norway and turned the Danes to Christianity." Blåtand united Denmark, Norway and Sweden and was influential in his christian calling. In his small sphere of influence in Europe, he definitely is a remarkable person in history.

Now if you look closely on the electronic devices of today we are very familiar with the technology called 'Bluetooth'. Blåtand's name when translated in english stands for Harald Bluetooth. The bluetooth technology was named in honor of this King of the Danes. Now if you observe the runic letters more closely as shown in the figures and take the H and B and fuse them, it gives us the Bluetooth Symbol. Isn't that remarkable? I think almost a thousand years later because Harald Blåtand was a difference maker in the sphere of his influence, his name was honored even more. I like to think God must have looked upon this servant of his like He did on Nehemiah for a job well done in his generation so much so that his name would be honored in a technology piece which would help in modern day communications between electronic devices.

May we like these amazing examples be difference makers, wall builders for the King of Kings in this generation.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Father's Fierceness

On my top ten favorite movies is "The Patriot" another "Wild At Heart" movie. I wonder why I didn't post this much earlier but I guess everything appears and happens on time in the seasons of your heart. I have spliced two clips here to show and talk about the fierceness of a father.

The movie is set during America's war of independence from the British. Benjamin Martin the hero of the story is a single father of seven children and owns land and property in the Carolinas. Though a former war hero he has taken a stand not to fight the British in spite being pursued by fellow friends and citizens who want to make use of his experience as a general. He maintains that he is a father and does not have the luxury to take part in the fight, but he does make his views clear that he opposes the idea of taxation without representation and voices his opinion that this war would not be fought in some distant battlefield but right in front of their homes.

In the mean time his eldest son Gabriel has rebelled against his father wishes and has signed up as a volunteer solider to fight the British in spite of his father's protests. True to his prophetic words in the legislature the fight does come home, as his wounded son collapses at his door step. In the events that ensue the ruthless British captain recognizes Gabriel as Martin's son and want to kill him, in the chaos one of his sons rushes to protect Gabriel's and dies in stead. The British Captain gives orders to set Martin's home on fire and lead away with Gabriel as a prisoner. Benjamin Martin the warrior father collects himself with the only desire of saving his children and becomes part of a fight he long tried to avoid. The scene below is the rescue of a father in his wholesome fierceness. The youngest of his son's has never seen this part of his father and has trouble accepting him as it emotionally effects to see his father as a violent man.

Benjamin Martin becomes Captain and leads a proxy war against the British and eventually helps them win a decisive battle. The movie is great study on the aspects of Fatherhood and how we as men are created as warriors to defend our families and our nations against any kind of tyranny and oppression. Benjamin Martin's son Gabriel stands for the ideals of freedom with a vision of greater nation where men are born and treated equal; and the picture of a  father who fought alongside his son not only for the protection of his own family but who stood up for those ideals with honor and courage. In the final scenes of the movie just as he promised the father avenges by killing ruthless captain who had murdered his sons without losing sight of the higher and larger cause freedom of all people who were part of that fight, freedom for a great nation.

The first clip in the movie reminds me of a savior who came down, his blood covered face at the cross is a similar analogy but so very real, so very true all because he chose to engage the enemy in battle to defeat him and rescue us. What a picture? The fierceness of the father was to recover all that was lost!

Thoughts for the day, Shalom & Blessings,

Sam Kurien

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Favorite One!

A few days back my family celebrated my birthday, early in the morning that day one of the words that Lord gave me was from Jeremiah 31:20 and its good to record here as reminder of his everlasting goodness to me.

"Oh! Ephraim is my dear, dear son, my child in whom I take pleasure! Every time I mention his name, my heart bursts with longing for him! Everything in me cries out for him. Softly and tenderly I wait for him. (Jer. 31:20 The Message)

He asked me to replace Ephraim’s name with mine. Though overwhelmed with this promise, it has also created a personal struggle, the onus now to believe – Can the King of the Universe really think this way about me…really about me?

Yet the realities and routines of life invade and the lingering thoughts of how do I arouse my heart to completely believe what He has said, How do I stay in that state of no-worry. At the same time I am aware things are moving, He has invited us to be an ally, encouraged us and released the truth that if He indeed takes pleasure in me and hence He has also made way for courage. Now is the time to fight for the hearts of people I love. Well the time is ripe, Aslan is on the move, we must ride hard, ride hard to Minas Tirith and join the great battle in saving Middle Earth, so is our story intertwined with the great adventure of saving the world. And amongst this adventure God whispers love in quietness, in magic and in mystery.

Yeshua’s call for intimacy is clear, a battle and adventure at hand. This is the gospel. Lord arouse faith in my heart to believe I am your favorite one and just like my heart yearns for you your heart yearns for me much more.

This is the Story we are living in. May you and I play the part of being His ally well.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Sunday, November 07, 2010

God Honors His Servant Moses

I have long wanted to post this revelation, but for some it may not be a revelation at all. But its recorded here anyway. In the book of Numbers Yahweh tells the children of Israel that they have grumbled against Him ten times and hence they will not enter the promised land. The grieved heart of God tells the entire generation that came out of Egypt because of this very reason they will die in the desert and the only their children will enter the promised land of rest. In Leviticus we observe when a High priest committed a sin the offering was a bull which in that day's economic terms was expensive. When a common person who was poor sinned the offering was to be a female goat, these laws were instituted to accommodate that God's people were to be holy and separate. I propose this here as a side note because it gives perspective of God's heart and His fairness.

Keep this in mind Moses was the leader who was leading the children of Israel out of bondage. Throughout his career he just committed one mistake and that mistake was striking the rock when God had specifically instructed him not to. The mistake cost Moses entering into the promised land along with the same punishment that the unbelieving generation got. We see in scriptures Moses pleading God to allow him to enter the promised land but the Lord tells him not to push this matter further and that he will only be able to see it from a distance on the hill but will not enter it and that he will die and be gathered unto his fathers.

Moses dies without entering the promised land and more importantly Moses did not know what was God's plan to honor him in spite of a mistake. Fast forward now two thousand years later, God honors his servant to stand in the promised land with His son Yeshua at the mount of transfiguration along with Elijah. Little did Moses knew all along God would know the deep desire of his servant's heart and He would honor and elevate it at an extraordinarily new level. The honor was to stand with the King of the Universe Himself during His ministry on earth.

This has blessed me from time to time because God is not only the redeemer of our hearts but He is also the one who fulfills the desires of our hearts. He knows the times and those who faithfully wait and honor Him will stand honored.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Grafted Into The Vine

Most of my friends know I am Zionist believing in the physical restoration of the greater state of Israel but my Zionism is deeply rooted in the Jewish-Christian faith of Theocracy where ultimately the jewish state is nothing but the garden (the Kingdom of heaven) where the  King of Kings returns to.  The city of Jerusalem in its midst where the King will take up His throne. I suspect (and this is just my theory) the future greater state of Israel or the garden will have the same dimensions of Eden and this will correspond to the steps that Abraham treaded  - being called out to the promised land to be a different nation - a model nation, and a people group chosen by Yehovah Himself. And this land of promise will include physically all the way from the river Euphrates to the north of river Nile. The dimensions of the heavenly Jerusalem will be the dimensions of the temple Solomon had built where the glory of God had come down. The city will no longer be ransacked or conquered because the King of Kings Himself will live in it and be its eternal defender.
The age old struggle between the sons of Isaac and Ishmael has to end, I believe in the promises of Ezekiel where the final solution of peace in middle east can only come about with the saving and restoration of Israel with the return of the King of Kings. But as we await this return the mandate for each one of us is knowing our place in the vine. The sons of Isaac have to stop with the struggle in their hearts that they are no longer or they don't want to be for a change "the sons of promise". God has chosen Israel as his first born, His jewel and Israel will always be the prince of God, the seed through whom the blessing and deliverance of all nations came.  The sons of Ishmael have to stop asserting their right that they are the chosen one instead of Isaac and know that just like the gentiles they are grafted into the vine because of Yeshua and His deliverance. The church needs to recognize that we are redeemed and grafted because of His blood and we are grafted into the vine because of His grace.
Thinking of  Jerusalem and the return of the King.
The Psalmist rightfully sings in:
Psalm 137:5 "If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill".
Blessings & Shalom,
Sam Kurien

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Road Not Taken?

Isaiah 45:2-3 "I Will Go Before You
I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name". (Isa. 45:2-3)

I know I am sojourner, a pilgrim passing through called by a haunting call to make a journey, an adventure and God promises “I will be with your wherever you go”. I know this but somehow my mind and heart is filled with doubts. I know in my mind the promises, I know that he desires to go with me but yet there are questions. These questions are haunting in themselves and the irony is that I am not able to always pin-point or form into a coherent set of ideas or problem statements in order to solve a problem but yet these questions linger. I also know His calling is part of giving up the less-wild lovers that have become a part of our identities and inset in us the seeds of doubts.

Its like God the lover is at every intersection beckoning me to take the road less travelled. There is anxiety, too many unknowns, sometimes very little hope yet one thing remains constant "His promise". The rambling journals of pilgrims that have taken this road ahead give no answers or clues but your own journey is unique, the embrace inevitable. I am reminded of Robert Frost's poem the Road not taken and hopefully the contemplation will help me take the road less travelled.

Thoughts for today,

Sam Kurien

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Family Crest & Battleshield

I have always been interested in medieval history and symbolism (all throughout history) & of course family heraldry is an integral part of it. A few weeks back I took a stab at designing a family crest, a battle shield and a tapestry design that I plan to pass on to our kids.  Fortunately I also found a armory maker that makes battle shields for hollywood movies who have graciously agreed to make a shield for me based on my design. I also found a tapestry maker in Tennesse who is going to work on a silk & woolen tapestry (4 x 4) that will hang in the family room alongside the battle shield and swords. So here are the design concepts and I welcome any comments. The associated meanings are explained with each concept.

The coat of arms has three animals - the Lion to signify 'strength', the eagle to symbolise 'might' and the horse to signify 'readiness to duty'. The latin phrases in the ribbon below the shield are associated with each animal. "Virtus in Ardus" means Virture of courage in Adversity is associated with the Lion. "Laus Deo" means "Praise be to God". The family praises God because of the redemptive work of Yeshua through His cross and because of that we are grafted into His royalty and hence the might of the eagle. The eagle also reprsents God's promise on my life from:

Isaiah 40:31 ...."but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

The text "Tenax Et Fidelis" stands for "Persevering and faithful" which is linked with readiness of duty that we go out and perfrom what we are called to do faithully and persever even in troubles and challenges. The swords are taken from the crusader era with the meaning that we carry out our faith and duties with the sword of the spirit which is the word of God and signifying that we are ever ready for battle. I turned the coat of arms of concepts into the battle shield with the same elements flowing into the tapestry design.

The symbolic elements of the family's battleshield reminds me of Paul's exultation in Ephesians 6:13–18 that we will raise the shield of faith in Yeshua and be ready for battle.
13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Lord Is a Warrior; And He also calls us friends!

I was overwhelmed in worship today with a song sung by Kathy Shooster on the album "Garments of Praise" with the song "No One More". I was overwhelmed to know all my springs are found in Him who is both warrior and friend. There is nothing more I want but Him and His embrace. I am reminded of this desperation and the gravity of what Yeshua said in the final days of His life on earth to fullfill our need and His desire to make us close to Him.

John 15:5 says ...."I no longer call you servants, becuase a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, fore everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you."

This call of embrace, this call of friendship with God is also a call of knowing and learning what the Father teaches. I may not entirely understand the deep emotions tha ran in our savior's heart and mind when He expressed those words, but this is coming from the same Savior who called Himself:

Exodus (15:3) "The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name"
Amen Amen.

The same Lord who shouted out in Isaiah that He will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior stirred up in His zeal with a shout He will rais the battle cray and will triumph victorious over His enemies.

(Ps. 24:7-8 NIV) Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle."
Amen Amen.

Why am I relating these two ideas of Yeshua's call of calling us out as "friends" (though He is Father God and Savior) and that of His character as a Warrior God. The answer is simple and some things are worth repeating and reporting again...The Warrior God has called us and elevated our status to be friends so that we like Him and along with Him will become mighty and strong in battle, an invitation to be intimate in His embrace, under His wings we become strong. Under His teaching and training I become a Warrior and His friend. A friend and brother in Christ master sculptor Mark Patrick who runs Eden productions came out with his new angel sculpture called "Warrior of God" - (see the image on the right). I love this imagery of a warrior angel drawn His sword ready to slay, but if you look closely and also see yourself covered under His wings - "fierce in Battle" ...ready to slay the enemies of God is the picture & idea that I take away home. I will end with Psalm 91:4 says ...

(Ps. 91:4 ESV) "He will cover you with his pinions and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is shield and a buckler

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Saturday, September 04, 2010

O Captain! My Captain!

American poet Walt Whitman wrote O Captain! My Captain! in 1865 a tribute he paid to Abraham Lincoln. Here is a video narration of the same for you to enjoy.

O Captain!_My Captain by Walt Whitman from Sam on Vimeo.

Amazingly the words so apply to our savior the only difference being Yeshua's victory didn't stop at His death but was complete in His resurrection and ascension. Every great leader pays the ultimate price by the sacrifice of his life. They go through great perils and guide a nation or a group of people through amazing long arduous journey's, some even don't see victory but live a life that over arches their own personal purposes. This poem though about Lincoln does not fail to remind me that Yeshua came into the world in disguise, for a daring rescue and restoration. C.S. Lewis puts it appropriately in Mere Christianity in his argument of God becoming man for us:

"But supposing God became a man - suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person - then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man. Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God's dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all. 

Isn't that amazing? I have purposefully related the poem to Lewis's argument not only to point out there was no way to save us and pay for our debt, redemption and restoration but for Yeshua to become man. And it was the only way we now can relate in our journey of dying to ourselves for living in Him.

Yeshua says:

"And he said the to them, If any man come after me let him deny himself , take up his cross and follow me (Luke 9:23)"

Denying here is daily dying, a resolute commitment to live in Him and that is the only way His life of abundance can flow in us. I am reminded of the scene in LOTR movie when Boromir is fighting the Orcs to save the hobbits, he lays down his life fighting. When Arragon finally comes to his aid, its too late but he is able to encourage Boromir that he fought bravely like a true son of Gondor at this Boromir replies, "I would have followed you till the end, My Brother, My Captain, My King".

In closing then let us resolve & renew our minds to transform our hearts on this journey calling our Lord "O Captain! My Captain! & My King!, I will follow you to the end in battles, wars and in the mundane's of life.

Shalom & Blessings,

Sam Kurien

'If'- Narration by Roger Federer & Raphael Nadal

I have decided to include my favorite poems from time to time that have shaped my thinking and faith. I was surprised to learn that last year's theme at Wimbeldon was Kiplings's poem - 'IF' and why not... how appropriate!.  Kipling was the winner of the 1907 Noble Prize in Literature and etched at the entrance of at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbeldon in his memory stand the words taken from his famous poem:

"If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two imposters just the same;"
So last year the poem was read by two of my favorite players Federer & Nadal, here's the video of the narration:

If_Read By Roger Federer_and_Nadal from Sam on Vimeo.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Friday, September 03, 2010

Understanding The Religious Spirit through 'Chocolat'

During summer many a friday nights my family gets to see a brilliant display of fireworks right from our house, shooting up and glittering the skies up, a result of the local baseball team winning on their home turf. The spectacle is beautiful and it usually ends in this grand finale of  phat pat phat phat phat pat boom, badoom, phoosh ending with a thunderous applause rising to the sky. Last night was the same, though I missed the finale the sounds were a  refreshing reminder of the joy in the Father's heart when a sinner repents, or when life happens, shalom reigns and His life is infused in something that was dead and wretched.

Talking about dead and wretched - a religious spirit is just that. It inbreeds within us; inculcating and feeding pride, hypocrisy, cover up, and adorning itself in self righteousness.  Its squeaky clean outside but very hollow inside. To illustrate the point I want to talk about a movie "Chocolat" adapted on the book written by Joanne Harris. The movie and book are brilliant in portraying what the false religious spirit is all about. The story takes place in 1959 French countryside a small village surrounded by its age old tradition of religion and rules...tranquility or tranquillité reigns supreme. Worship, orthodoxy and even the sermons written by the church priest was tightly controlled by its mayor Comte de Reynaud. Renaud who made sure that none of these age old ways and traditions of the fathers were disturbed. Nothing out of the norm was to be even thought of. The monotony of the village life crushed life and spirit itself from within. The people of the town became slaves of their own traditions and kept it up for external appearances.

It is the season of lent and as the north wind blows in, a single mother and her pre-teen daughter move into this small town. Its as if God has send a woman to purposefully disturb the tranquility, shake up life and blow holes in the false outward religiosity of the simple folk of the town. The woman Vianne Rocher and her young daughter are drifters and are met with skepticism and resistance as they set up a chocolateier in a rented house that stood before the town church. Vianne’s chocolate creates quite the stir, improving one couple’s love life, inspiring a wife (Lena Olin) to leave her abusive husband and reuniting a old woman (Judi Dench) with her grandson. In a more serious film, this would all seem quite convenient and unlikely, but few viewers will fail to notice that chocolate is a metaphor here for something bigger. It embodies that blurred line between what is temptation and what is a healthy possibility. As Vianne begins to work her magic with delicious chocolates and helping people who don't neatly fit in. Renaud the town mayor has silently launched a tirade of gossip campaign against her morality of starting up a chocolate shop during the season of lent. Vianne's warm friendly personality and incredible chocolates manage to win many townsfolk except for the mayor and few men who hold up the resistance. Things get shaken up even more when a group of gypsies led by Roux stop into town (to the even greater distress of the mayor) and Vianne takes up with him.

Chocolat - Vianne Sets Up Shop from Sam on Vimeo.

The movie takes on its brilliant course when Vianne finally gives up and is ready to move out of the town after a fire incident and constant threats from the town's leadership against her presence and the existence of her business. However Josephine rallies with the help of the friends (whose lives were made different by Vianne) to keep running the shop, Vianne is persuaded to stay by the love expressed by these friends. In the meantime the mayor's false veil of religiosity breaks and he ends up in Vianne's shop devouring the chocolates that he had prevented others to buy. The mayor realizes the freedom in love and unity was much better than just keeping up a false pretentious face over things that really didn't matter. Pere Henri (Hugh O’Conor) delivers the closing words of the film at Easter Mass after appearing as a peculiar and weak character throughout, the story’s message of accepting others who are different from us, allowing life to flow in freedom of faith, trust, relationships and  love rather than religious veil of hypocrisy.

Another cool aspect of the story is Vianne's own struggle, a bondage that came down from her mother who belonged to a native american tribe that discovered 'cocoa',  with an unusual curse of her people. The curse was whenever the special north wind blew she would get up and leave the place with her daughter, leaving her home, husband and the roots that she had set up. Vianne's daughter Anook hates moving and has not found a place to call home because of this bondage. The north wind has blown again and Vianne struggles once more 'to pick up & leave everything she has come to love', but this time she overcomes this bondage from her mysterious past and has decided to put down her roots. A woman is created by her maker to put down roots, bring stability, give life and make things grow. She leaves the curse behind, leaves it for someone else to go to new places, find new friends and change lives.

“Chocolat” could easily be construed as critical of organized religion, Catholicism in particular, but Pere Henri’s speech beautifully connects the film’s call for embracing life with Christian philosophy. It’s a timeless message with timeless components, but the unique premise and setting make “Chcolat” a fresh tale of great wisdom.

Yeshua came to give life and not just life but life in abundance. 

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Blessed Life

Last weekend finished reading "The Blessed Life" By Pastor Robert Morris. I was blown away by the challenges the book addresses to us about living a life of giving. This is the first book that I have been satisfied in terms of understanding the principles of tithing at a deeper level how it is a form of worship that is sacred to the Lord. Though I took a lot away from the book and referenced it deeply from the word of God, this post however will not delve into all the details but some important points that I want to record  for my own personal memoir.

God always takes the first place. You cannot give Him a second place in any realm of your life. Believers in Yeshua are called to lay down their lives and deny themselves. It is like the inner man dies and the new man now lives as exhorted in the gospels and Pauline letters when you are in Yeshua.

Some important points I go away blessed with in the area of giving: are:

The Lord tests us in three areas:

1) Test of Need: This is where the principle of the first fruits apply. In whatever you make and do the first portion is always the Lord's. This is the only area the Lord allows a believer to test Him back. He promises:

8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 3:8-12)

2) Test of Greed: When the Lord blesses you with abundance, the question that comes to your heart is will you hold back your generosity?. The principle here is we give because God is a generous giver and He tests us to see if we will hold back in greed, and begin trusting in our resources or something that replaces Him. Our abundance and wealth are to be held loosely and we give not to get, but we give so that we are instruments of His blessings, we becomes vessels that pour out generously to meet a need that the Holy Spirit prompts us to. Sometimes abundance can also put us in a state of fear, when we begin to depend on it as the source of our resources rather than Him being the source of all our life and all our needs.

3) Finally the Test of the Seed: Morris talks about three types of givers, tithers, generous givers and the extravagant givers. The final test is in the test of the seed once you grow and are fully sold out to God and are living in the leading of His Holy Spirit we go past the state of abundance and are in the unique position of being extravagant givers. Because God is an extravagant giver, He teaches us this test has three underlying principles, they are:

a) You get what you sow: If you sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully, if you sow corn you will get corn, if you sow wheat, you will get wheat.

b) You reap after you sow: The harvest comes after you have sown. A farmer cannot say I will reap in so and so month this much without actually sowing something.

c) You will reap more than what you sow: The harvest that comes back is always much more than what you sow. A apple seed when it becomes a apple tree brings forth much more apples.

Now these principles are important to understand in understanding the test of the seed. God will give extravagant givers seed. They will be instrumental in building the kingdom of God, though God is the provider of the seed and He is the one who gives growth to that seed and He is also the one who brings fruit, our test lies in what we are going to do with that seed. When King David saw that he was not the one supposed to build the temple, he purposefully set out to lay out all the provisions necessary (for his son Solomon), wood, workers, silver, gold, supplies, and monies.If you take that in today's value perspective it would be roughly about 21 billion dollars. You will ask just to build a temple for the Lord. The natural logical mind would say "should we waste that much on a building instead of  helping the poor?" I know a selfish mind would also say that...It all boils down to your heart's condition and hearts attitude in extravagant giving. Yeshua talks about an equally extravagant gift in His eyes when he points his disciples to the poor woman's mite who gave it all into the house of God. One may also draw attention to the form of worship that Mary showed by pouring out precious spikenard on Jesus's feet that was worth a year's wages in Israel.

3Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.. (John 12:3)

It was indeed an extravagant giving and  an extravagant act of worship that came from a heart in a good place.  Its not the value associated with the giving or the seed but it is the action and attitude of the heart that counted towards the Lord and His Kingdom. And in closing, the Lord God of Israel will never be out given. He promises and guarantees His children a return much more in the natural and the super-natural realms. Again its not in what we get but in what we give the joy of the Lord & His kingdom expands and overflows in our hearts.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ancient Rome & Today

Alfred Edersheim a Jewish convert to Christianity was a Biblical Scholar especially known for his work "The life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883)".  Edersheim's scholarship is little know among contemporary Christians but it towers over modern day skeptics and their idle bantering of how the existence of a true God is a fancy idea. Edersheim's scholarly works are gold mine of information on the religious and cultural conditions of Christ's ministry in the Roman times. The description of Rome given by Edersheim is not much different from today's America, here's an excerpt for you to follow about the state of Rome before its complete fall.

Religion, philosophy and society  had passed through every stage to that of despair. Without tracing the various forms of ancient thought it may be generally said that in Rome at least the issue lay between stoicism and Epicurean-ism.  The one flattered its pride and other gratified its sensuality. One was in accordance with its national character and the other with decay & corruption. Both ultimately led to atheism and despair. The one by turning all higher aspirations self-ward and the other by quenching them for satisfying  the desires of the moment. The one by extinction of all feeling and deification, the other by indulgence of every passion & the worship of matter as it ideal. It would be unsavory to describe how far the worship of indecency was practiced and carried in Rome. How public morals were corrupted by mimic representations of everything that was vile and even by the pandering of corrupt art. The impersonation of gods, oracles, divinations, dreams, astrology, all contributed to general decay. It has been rightly said, that the idea of conscience, as we understand it, was unknown to heathenism. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right. The social relations exhibited, if possible displayed even deeper corruption. The sanctity of marriage had ceased. Female dissipation and the general dissoluteness led at last to an almost entire cessation of marriage. Abortion, and the exposure of murder of newly-born children were common and tolerated; unnatural vices, which even the greatest philosophers practiced, if not advocated, attained proportions which defy description. .

Edersheim wrote this almost a hundred years ago, and unfortunately its no different from the world view that we we stand and stare into (or I should say live in). The english journalist Steve Turner wrote a satirical sarcasm in poetic form called "Creed" on today's social norms which I have taken from Ravi Zacariah's Book "Can man live without God?" a answer to which Steve Turner says "No, but we try all the time...

We believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything's getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes
UFO's and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

Isn't that an amazing parallel to ancient Rome. We know the reasons of the decline and demise of Rome. I will quote Huxley here who said - "If we don't learn from the mistakes of the past we are bound to repeat them". We are in interesting times challenged by the clash of world views that takes place in everything you do or even just merely being a part of. But at the same the deeper truth is what we are called to reflect, which is as Christians we know we are a people redeemed, saved by grace alone, and called to look upon the face of God to surrender our hearts, so that it will go well with our souls.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Prayer Notes From Proverbs

I read through the book of Proverbs every month and here are some of the prayers that I have attached as notes to some of these incredible verses. I thought it was a good idea to post them here as memorial stones to bring them to remembrance from time to time.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Proverbs 25:2)
O Lord you servant and child asks you for wisdom so that I can do all the things that you have for me. O Lord you take delight in your children searching, finding and being filled with joy. O Lord even in the mundane routines of studies, work, and other exciting adventures and purposes you may have for us you rejoice in us. Lord help us to search out matters, mysteries and above all your mind to do the things that you have for us in our generation.

Amen Amen.

A man's step are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his way? (Proverbs 20:24)
O Lord God of Israel, guide my steps as you guided the steps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Help me to set my heart to worship on these steps, help my heart to be completely devoted to you and your ways. Holy Spirit Ruach Adonai help me to walk in these steps guided by your hand of mercy. O Lord you promised - the steps of the righteous redeemed and those who look upon your face are guided by you.

love you O Lord.

A man's step are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his way? (Proverbs 20:24)

O Lord God of Israel, guide my steps as you guided the steps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Help me to set my heart to worship on these steps, help my heart to be completely devoted to you and your ways. Holy Spirit Ruach Adonai help me to walk in these steps guided by your hand of mercy. O Lord you promised - the steps of the righteous redeemed and those who look upon your face are guided by you.

love you O Lord.

A inhertiance gained quickly will not be blessed in the end. (Proverbs 20:21)

O Lord Bless the inheritance that you give me, may your blessing rest upon it till the end of my life and beyond for my children's sake, for O Lord I have dedicated my heart and deciated their hearts to you. What are we O Lord specks of dust of the earth, but redeemed by your love, brought into righteousnes and brought into worship to you. So O Lord for your name sake do this for your servant, in your chesed raise your sceptre and give the inheritance of the saints and let not me or my children squander this inheritance in pride or sin. Help us be a pleasing aroma to spread your fragrance and your light in the world.
love you O Lord.

The fear of the Lord leads to life. Then one rests, untouched by trouble. (Proverbs 20:6)

O Lord help me to fear you all the days of my life. O Lord let me children live in the sacred fear of intimacy with you.

Many are the plans in man's heart but its is the Lord's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
O Lord let your purpose prevail in my life. Your ways for me are good, your plans for me are to prosper me and give me life in abundance so O Lord align my purposes to yours help me make my purposes the purposes of the Lord. O Lord you promised your servant prosperity of my sould and heart and I bring to reminder your greate promises, this is where I thrive. O Lord may my heart's meditation be pleasing to you.

Monday, August 23, 2010



Well, the above word is is not 'Cheesed' or 'Cheezed' or 'Cheez It' but as my hebrew scholar friend Glen will point that the right pronunciation would be with the jaw and the tongue going in backward and pronouncing the 'Ch' with almost a slight rough growl. Anyway that is the oddness of the Hebrew language but its deep meanings make it a beautiful language for expressing the heart of God. The words have so much depth and meaning so much so a exact literal translation word-to-word into English is not possible. So an entire post on a word?- Yes, from my last  post you might remember in Jeremiah Chapter 2 God uses this word "Chesed" in addressing Israel.

Biblical scholars have often complained that the word חֶסֶד in the Hebrew Bible is difficult to translate into English, because it really has no precise equivalent in our language. English versions usually try to represent it with such words as "loving-kindness," "mercy," "steadfast love," and sometimes "loyalty," but the full meaning of the word cannot be conveyed without an explanation, such as the one given in the article below. This article, by Norman H. Snaith, is reproduced from A Theological Word Book of the Bible, edited by Alan Richardson (New York: MacMillan, 1951), pp. 136-7.

This word cannot be used unless the two parties have a very intimate relationship as was with God and Israel. It is a word that is exclusively used in the marriage-covenant relationship that God had with Israel. He uses this very romantic term of endearment several times in the scriptures. As said earlier in english the word is loosely translated as "loving-kindness"; but it is so much more,  the exact depth of meaning comes close to something like Israel is the young maiden in love with God and when God looks at this young maiden with 'chesed', she looks into His eyes and sees herself in Him. He therefore considers her as the apple of His eye and will do anything for her. Sir George Adam Smith suggested the rendering of the word to "leal-love" which combined the meanings of extreme loyalty and utmost love. In this case God's loving-kindness or 'chesed'  is something more than sure love, His faithfulness will not let Israel go in spite of her unfaithfulness. God in His 'chesed' love for Israel will not wash His hands, He is not willing to break covenant even when His bride will. The wider meaning then also encompassed covenant and mercy. We know from Israel's history how His mercy has been exemplified time and again in spite of Israel's straying away from Him. For this reason the Greek translators of the Old testament in the 3rd century B.C used the Greek word 'eleos' which meant mercy or pity as the regular rendering.

Rashi the (eleventh-century A.D) Jewish commentator said that Yahweh gave the precedence 'rule of mercy' and joined it with the 'rule of justice' which meant that because of His passion of righteousness he will not thwart justice but to estimate the depth of His love he continually shows his 'chesed' in coming after Israel. In my previous post on Hosea we saw this aspect of God of how He demonstrated this point through Hosea's life story.  One can almost also loosely relate God's heart for justice and love to the analogy of King Arthur who wanted Lancelot to come and whisk away Guinevere because Arthur as a king could not stop being just or executing the law of the land for adultery and treachery but at the same time his love for Guinevere wanted her to escape so that she could live.

So 'chesed' - Is God viewing us as the maiden He is madly in love with, we are the apple of His eye and His loving kindness, mercy, covenant relationship and faithfulness and relentless pursuit is all what is encompassed in this powerful expression.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Decline of a Nation

A few days back I heard a neat podcast from Ravi Zacharias a Christian apologist of par excellence. His source of analysis, knowledge with the ability to express deep theological concepts & ideas keeping the aroma and richness of the Gospel message intact have always left me spell bound. We are in a time when we need more  Christian leaders like Ravi who emulate from their personal life as good examples & have the ability to articulate the word of God in clear, concise and accurate ways that will pierce the hearts of people in the deep places.

The talk was about the decline of a nation and I summarize the things that I have learnt for everybody's enrichment and hoping that this helps us all in our personal journeys.  Ravi  relates the current state of affairs in America today to the day of Jeremiah when the final curtain comes down on the nation of Israel with the tender-hearted prophet lamenting on what has happened. The Assyrian army has come ravaged and razed down the city of Jerusalem. This event culminates exactly 1000 years after their Exodus from Egypt a nation that was shaped by God himself has now allowed judgment to come upon it.  In Jeremiah chapter 2 God is reminding about Israel's mistakes, I will lump some of the love verses of God's heart over Israel from this chapter:

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:

       " 'I remember the devotion of your youth, 
       how as a bride you loved me 
       and followed me through the desert, 
       through a land not sown.
 3 Israel was holy to the LORD, 
       the firstfruits of his harvest; 
       all who devoured her were held guilty, 
       and disaster overtook them,' " 
       declares the LORD.
 5 This is what the LORD says: 
       "What fault did your fathers find in me, 
       that they strayed so far from me? 
       They followed worthless idols 
       and became worthless themselves.
 6 They did not ask, 'Where is the LORD, 
       who brought us up out of Egypt 
       and led us through the barren wilderness, 
       through a land of deserts and rifts, 
       a land of drought and darkness, [a] 
       a land where no one travels and no one lives?'
 8 The priests did not ask, 
       'Where is the LORD ?' 
       Those who deal with the law did not know me; 
       the leaders rebelled against me. 
       The prophets prophesied by Baal, 
       following worthless idols.
 9 "Therefore I bring charges against you again," 
       declares the LORD. 
       "And I will bring charges against your children's children.
 11 Has a nation ever changed its gods? 
       (Yet they are not gods at all.) 
       But my people have exchanged their [d] Glory 
       for worthless idols.
 15 Lions have roared; 
       they have growled at him. 
       They have laid waste his land; 
       his towns are burned and deserted.
 16 Also, the men of Memphis [e] and Tahpanhes 
       have shaved the crown of your head. [f]
 17 Have you not brought this on yourselves 
       by forsaking the LORD your God 
       when he led you in the way?

God is bringing a charge against Israel, He reminds them that He had redeemed them from Egypt, (He has redeemed us from sin), brought them out into a land of spaciousness and made them righteous and He was to be the center of their worship. Instead they had forgotten who He was, What He did for them and forsaken worship of Him. As a result the nation has collapsed,  invading kingdoms are here taking the land and its people back into slavery. Ravi points out four reasons and reminds us that it started way back in the beginning. The four chief reasons he gives for the decline of the nation are:
  1. Ancestral Disappointments
  2. Prophetic Duplicity
  3. National Desertion
  4. Personal Disavow
I add a fifth one to the list and that would be male prostitution in the land.

Let us explore them one by one and see how a nation's decline begins and the curtain of is glorious history, heritage and prosperity ends. Ancestral disappointments started in Israel's history just after three days of their miraculous journey through the parting of the seas. They complained why God had brought them out of Egypt, they showed unbelief and lack of trust in spite of the Lord's miraculous provisions. It is interesting that in Jeremiah Chapter 2 the Lord pin points not on national leaders but brings back the charge  Fathers who have betrayed, doubted and followed after worthless idols.

Secondly "prophetic duplicity" in the land meant a mixed message was coming across to people from the spiritual leadership that God need not be in the first place. The priests and the prophets were in the business of asking "What's in it for me?". Everyone struggles with this one; especially men who are wired to work and lead. I have longed told the Lord that if I were in full time ministry I wouldn't want to see how my wages or provisions came through.  Today's ministers trained out of seminaries, the first question they ask is "What will be my salary or benefits?" - Now I am not saying this is bad or judging anyone because times have changes and governance/structure and important components of ministries and every minister is due the laborers wages but it is the heart & mind attitude that counts. It is not about self-seeking, self-promoting or just wage-based support for surviving in contrast Ravi reveals about men like Henry Martin & C.T Studd.

Henry Martin left the girl he loved and travelled as a missionary to Burma, India and Iran, dragged into the desert and died a martyr's death at the young age of 31 but not before translating the Bible into Arabic, Hindustani and Persian all without a computer. C.T Studd a man who was the captain of the Cambridge cricket team left his illustrious career and wealth to be a missionary in Africa. In the 11 years that he lived apart from his wife who was raising support for him they saw each other for two weeks. Tremendous sacrifices have been made by men who gave it all and completely surrendered it for Christ. When men like this disappear a nation's collapse is assured.

Thirdly  "National Desertion"  meant the nation had given up on God completely and gone after false gods and worshipped idols . Today's leaders boldly proclaim that America is and was never a Christian nation.  It was only a 180 years ago when President Lincoln said I quote:

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!" -    Lincoln, Abraham

God's mercy has been great but we have quickly as a nation forgotten.We have taken the true God of heaven and earth out of America,  out of our schools systems and political arenas in the name of political correctness and fairness. In his advocacy of thankfulness to God, Lincoln left a stern warning to the people of his day and they remain relevant to our times as well. Today's leaders are ashamed to repent or pray, or take a strong stance on anything but mix their words to be fair. They set a poor precedence for the nation and the core unit of the nation "the family".

I ended the third point on family on purpose because individuals make up the family and at the individual level the last point is of  "personal disavow" with God. We tend to become complacent saying "I used to believe in Him and now I don't" and this may stem from our personal experiences, feelings and discouragements (the battle for the heart).  A couple of years ago there was a segment on 60 minutes on the "The Lost Boys of Sudan" a documentary that studied war torn abandoned children who made this trek from Sudan to Kenya. Thousands of children without food, water made and exodus through war afflicted nations and genocide survived with the hope in their eyes and faith in the living God of the Bible. The documentary then focused also on a segment of teenage children in a affluent neighborhood in Georgia where sex, booze and drugs were freely flowing. A church revival spurred them to come back to the Lord but as soon as a discouraging event or a something that a kid wished or asked of God did not happen they went back to their old ways primarily disappointed in God and a personal disavow.  You get the picture.

Finally the decline of nation gets sealed when men prostitute themselves in the land. The point here is not just physical prostitution but men who exchange their hearts to self seeking idols and lead others to that kind of harlotry and idolatry. The consequences then are severe and its a wake up call at an individual, corporate and national levels  that we see this condone & condemn it, repent, fall flat on our faces and seek the face of God. The message is grim but my hope and prayer is for men and make a stand against idolatry and harlotry both at physical and heart level. Let us guard our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit of God to bring revival in the land. Hope is beautiful when we enter into worship and surrender our strength and hearts to the one who can rescue, redeem and bring us into the relationship that we are made for.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Live Life Large

Two days back I was feeling horrible about something, that's when God intervened and said "I want you to live life large". I have been musing about it ever since, sometimes ambitions, aspirations visionary things to do great  can leave you with a sense of guilt...questioning oneself "Am I suppose to do this?" Isn't it greedy or selfish...but God has a funny way to teach you through His word, through His ecounters with you and He is good at getting His point across.

Having said that, I was listening to Bill Johnson from Bethel Church, I love what is happeining there and every time I hear news about what is happening in the super-nautual of what God is doing all over the earth I am excited of the adventorous journey I am on.

Transitioning back to the point of God asking me to "live life large" and not be guilty about it. I was reminded of a Marlboro cigarette Ad that used to run in the late 80's showing a guy in cowboy hat puffing away and the commercial ending in the chime in "live large king size",  however its not that kind of living the Father was hinting to me about. I am slowly beginning to understand deeply that living large is about constantly having the presence of the Lord, having His habitation in me, around me, with me, beside me, front of me and behind me. Oh I love it!; the dichotomy of secular and sacred no longer exists, whatever we do, we do unto the Lord, we do for the Glory and fame of our savior. And this is super natural living and the only natural way of living. We begin to view life in a different context, our problems are no longer ours, they are His. The Bible says we are now seated in heavenly realms looking down on the situations that pertain to us, our friends, neighbors, nations and the world. We are confiding in the one who is more than able, who has given us erga and dunamis power to bring order in chaos. To call out life into the lifeless, to call out light where there is darkness, to bring strongholds down and move in the power of Yeshua.

The word Bill mentioned was from Haggai Chapter 2 verse 9 which says:

"The glory of the latter house will be greater than the former house". 

When you allow God to intervene your daily life, His habitation in us & among us changes things.  And the way He does things becomes every time better. Jacob slept on holy ground where without a church building, Jacob became aware of God's presence, changed the course of His life.  We see throughout scriptures that God's glory is going to cover the face of the earth, today we are the living temples of His presence and that is the secret of living large.  Like the Psalmist rejoices for God putting him in a spacious place, He has enlarged my territory. The physical manifestations and blessings are all good but what makes it sweet and complete is we don't take our focus away from our Maker and that we never forget the longing for His habitation.

I will end with a reminder of the chorus of a song written by Lynn DeShazo that sums my desire:

"In His Presence that's where I am strong;
In your presence O Lord my God
In your presence That'w where I belong,
Seeking your face, Touching your grace,
In the cleft of the Rock
In your presence O God.  

My thoughts, Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A little Horseback Riding, Cowboy Hat & the Spirit of the West!

A couple of weeks back I went horse back riding with the family into the beautiful mountains of Colorado. The crisp air, afternoon sun and the long rocky range in the backdrop made this picturesque vista perfect. A little horse back riding and a cool cowboy hat can do a lot of good for the soul, if you don't believe me try it out, but do it somewhere in Colorado. Well this trek led my thoughts way back to my childhood days in India where my best friend in school Nikul would come to my place and we would take off in the back parking lots of a government office building to pretend play that we were cowboys back in the old west. Those days were filled with idyllic musings of boyhood dreams of riding away - exploring new untamed territories, scurrying off an Indian attack, rescuing the damsels in distress and following the heart of the lone ranger in adventure pursuing gold and bringing the "wanted" to justice. Most of these stories came from the wild west comics we exchanged and most of the pretend play was never even rehearsed, it just came naturally from our imagination. We led the stories to take their own twists & turns....the plot always thickened when we would jump a 100 years in the future and play American & Russian spy's in covert operations during the cold war.

Anyway those dreams had in them an innate sense of wonder and awe about the spirit of the west which has remained with me to this day. What is the spirit of the west? For each one of us it may be different but for me it is the courage of venturing out to an unknown place, it is faith in the Lord that He is able to guide your paths, it is the not only taking hold of new territory but an opportunity to do good and spread the gospel in the land. Of course, historically it has been much more and maybe even very different, for it has taken many forms and many a trials but I see these threads have weaved and formed a vital part of those adventures and stories that made the west. 

The nostalgia of finding new places, extension of the rail lines, establishing of new cities and the leading & founding of a nation that would eventually become a melting pot for all the races of the earth. I know the spirit of the West is even much more, it is also the embodied in the smaller stories of families that went out in search of new opportunities, search for gold, search for jobs, search for new life and along the way forming the myriad threads that build a young nation. 

Why am I relating this? The idea I want to express here is simple, God puts in us desires, hopes and He fills a man's heart with the ideas of going out, taking on new territories, exploring, conquering, subduing, settling and launching others into that calling of adventure; We are wired that way. The good Lord put in each one of us a desire to be much more than what we are. Our endeavor and charge is not to kill those desires and not to let them die with the arrow wounds that fly at us from the past, present or our surroundings. It is in those encounters of our heart the evil whisperer comes and fills us with resignation, wrong ideas, leaning and crippling us with sin. Sometimes we allow ourselves to play the blame game, or the self-pity game and some times we resign to do nothing, the desire dies and so does our hearts. And that is why Yeshua cautions and guards us by quoting from Proverbs 4:23:

Which  reads: “Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of Life."

I like how Ellie in the animation movie 'Up' shouts out "Adventure is out there" - all you have to do is set out and that my friend is the spirit of the west. And even if you don't "Adventure's are still out there" and you still have to go out and live it. I have added one my favorite clips between Carl and Ellie from the movie for you to enjoy; the calling is clear once again "Adventure is out there!!"

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien