STRONGHOLDS, THE WAY TO OVERCOME THEM

In the Bible, when Israel entered Canaan land, the first city they won a victory over was Jericho. The second one they went against was Ai but were defeated because of sin in the camp. Once Joshua and the people had repented of it and had cleansed themselves, God enabled them to overcome Ai.

God gave them a battle plan to overcome it by setting an ambush. Joshua killed all its inhabitants and its king, taking only the plunder and livestock for themselves, then set fire to the city, leaving it in ruins, just as God instructed them to. You can read an account of this incident in chapter 7 and 8 of the book of Joshua.

Ai was not just another town to overcome, but a place of defeat and shame for Israel because they disobeyed God. It was, therefore, imperative for Joshua and Israel to drastically deal with it, destroying it completely to strike fear in the hearts of all the inhabitants of Canaan who were watching these events. We read in chapter 9 that this did strike so much fear in the hearts of the kings around that they ganged up together to fight against Israel and in the battle that followed, were soundly defeated.

Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus warns them to put on the whole armour of God since our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness in heavenly places. Our enemies today are not physical, but those that war against the soul and hold us captive by influencing our thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle in ch 10 tells the church that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (not physical), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.

Strongholds are imaginations and high thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, resulting in unbelief and birthing rebellion against His rulership and authority in our lives.

The way Joshua dealt with the stronghold of Ai gives us clues and pointers as to how to deal with strongholds today.

Strongholds come when we allow wrong patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour to crystallize in our lives. Strongholds begin when we allow Satan, self and sin to gain a toehold in us. From being a toehold it progresses to a foothold, a threshold, an anchor-hold (rooted in you), becomes a household (part of you), then a stranglehold (doesn’t let go) and finally a stronghold (holds you captive).

Strongholds develop over some time and can be acquired by genetic transfer, genealogical download, from our wrong thought processes, from rebellious orientations and stubborn natures. If we have to truly be set free and enjoy the fullness of the abundant life Jesus promised, we must deal with strongholds and destroy them.

How do you destroy strongholds and overcome deep-seated bondages? You destroy them by a truth encounter and a Spirit encounter.

Truth encounter is when you are confronted by the Word of God and you allow it to work in your heart and life. In John 8 we read of Jesus declaring that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free and in John 17:17 that His word is truth. Heb 4:12 tells us that the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it can judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. Since strongholds are found in the inner being of thoughts and intents, only the Word of God can penetrate deep enough to destroy them.

However, truth encounter can set us free from strongholds, if and only if we are humble enough to accept and acknowledge the diagnosis of sin and wrongdoing that the Word brings to us, irrespective of who brings it and no matter how it comes. When our hearts are tender and pliable, we will hear and accept the truth even from a child or a donkey (Balaam) or by hearing a cock crow (Peter)!

Acceptance of the truth about ourselves will lead us to humble ourselves and repent. Once we repent, we are in the light as He is in the light and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, making us whole. Strongholds need the truth of the Word of God to be demolished and destroyed!

Spirit encounter happens when the power of God is present to heal and deliver us from all bondages. That is why we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the infilling of the Spirit, nor just once, but constantly in our lives. The Bible says that where the Spirit of God is there is liberty because the veil over the mind is then removed by His presence and there are openness and sensitivity to His word (II Cor 3). Hence, being filled with and being full of the Spirit and power is a mandatory need for being set free from strongholds.

If the Spirit of God is to deliver and set us free, we need to allow Him to heal our inner wounds and hurts. People may have wronged us, done evil against us or even robbed us of our opportunities and prosperity. We need to forgive each and everyone unconditionally, just as Christ has forgiven us, irrespective of what they may have done. Harbouring bitterness, malice and unforgiveness are key factors in developing strongholds in our lives.


To live a life free of strongholds, we need to:

Walk in the light as He is the light, being sensitive and responsive to His word
Renew our minds and calibrate it to the principles and precepts in the Word of God
Avoid nurturing hard feelings and wrong emotions, but allowing inner healing to happen
Forgive, let go of hurts and all kinds of negativity
Work in the habit of reconciliation, restitution and restoration, always taking care to be led by and yielded to the Holy Spirit
Grow in the knowledge of the Lord and the power of His might to deliver as well as protect us from all else
Be strong and convinced about God’s love, certain that He is always for you, never against you!

It is very important for us to be aware, identify and confront strongholds, taking care to see that they are utterly dismantled. Just as Joshua completely ruined Ai, even so, we must root out every last bit of stronghold and ensure we have removed any vestige or remnant of it. The reason for this is that if there is a root left behind, it will be easy for the stronghold to rise again to rule the roost. A vulnerability and weakness remains embedded and hidden in, giving a handle for the enemy to use it to enslave.

Every disciple and believer of Christ can themselves identify and destroy strongholds when they are yielded to the Spirit of God and sensitive to the Word of God. When you are encountering or being confronted or convicted by both, just bow down and accept humbly. Allow the Word of God to wash you and the Spirit of God to empower you with His healing anointing.

Both encounters can come to you through various circumstances and people. If you reject the message because of the messenger, you are the one who will lose out. Happy is the one who is open and sensitive to take correction and admonition even from a child, for God can use even the least to bring deliverance!

If you find certain strongholds too much for you to handle, request the help of godly strong mentors and leaders who are older and wiser than you. Don’t hesitate to open up to them, but live and walk in accountability to them, always. Do not seek help from peers, but seek out the help of mature and understanding elder men and women who themselves are walking in Spirit and in truth.

Be part of a small group and grow in relationship with the people of God. There is much protection from the forces of darkness and deliverance from inward bondages when you are actively part of a community of faith.

Do not give place nor a foothold to the devil, Eph 4:27

Strongholds are dangerous to cultivate, foster and maintain for they give room for the devil to have a place in our lives. Root them out asap, even though letting go is hard. It will be harder when you allow a stronghold take root in you, for then you are building an arsenal for the enemy to use against you!

Imitate Christ Who boldly but surely declared that the prince of this world had no hold over Him (John 14:30)!

*Pics courtesy Google Images

HAVE YOU EVER CAMPED AT GILGAL?

In the Bible, when Israel crossed over into Canaan, after the parting of the waters of Jordan, the first place they camp is at Gilgal. At Gilgal, God asks Joshua to do something significant – circumcise all the men since they hadn’t done it during the forty years of their desert wandering. God then pronounces over them a declaration viz. that He has rolled away the reproach of Egypt from them that day. The name Gilgal means the place where reproach was removed.

Circumcision was given by the Lord to the patriarch Abraham and his generations as physical evidence and sign of His covenant with them. All male members of Israel had to bear this in their flesh as a mark of their commitment to follow Him and obey His laws as partners of the covenant. Circumcising, the removing of the foreskin, was the outward symbolic act of an inward relationship with God, to be His people and live according to His precepts.

For Israel, Gilgal event was significant as it:
Reconnected them to their heritage and their history carved out by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Renewed their allegiance to God in the moment of setting foot on the land promised so long ago to their forefather Abraham.
Reinstated them as a people and a nation rather than just a rabble who came out of nowhere.
Restored them to their own land from which they had been forced to migrate four hundred plus years before due to widespread famine.
Removed from them the stain of being a pack of escaped or freed slaves and establishing them as an ethnic groups with their own culture.
Reinstalled them with a sense of identity so as to live with the dignity and decorum that befits those who belong the God on High.

Circumcision is not easy experience for grown-up men since it involves a stripping away, an onslaught of pain and a time of weakness induced in the body. In fact, we see in Josh 5 that they had to rest for 3 days till they healed from it. It was after this only did they go up to battle against the first city, Jericho.

Why was it important for the people to go through this important rite before the battle? Wouldn’t it have made sense to do such things after they had conquered the whole land and really settled in peace once for all?

It was important to do this before even the first fight because they had to be strong in who they were and what were their roots. The kings of the land feared them, but unless the men of war had their identity in place, they wouldn’t be able to do what they had to do. Their identity was wrapped up in their relationship with God. They had to have no lingering thought of their past slavery. They needed to hold their heads up high, not just as a free people, but as a people who belonged to the God of all the earth. They had to have it branded in them that they were those whom He had claimed as His own by a strong hand and an outstretched arm !

Jericho was not the only city they had to face, but it was the first one they had to overcome. This was just the beginning of battles, which would continue on for a long time until they possessed the whole land. Jericho was also a walled city, a strong fortress and a defenced city. It was the gateway of Canaan and so conquering it would be key to ensuring victory through all the land.

Therefore, not only did they have to be strengthened in their identity, but they also had to be totally convinced about and in the power of their God. They had to stand tall based on their standing with God and draw their power from a relationship with Him. They had to be strong not in themselves but in the power and might of Him Who carried them on wings of eagles to their promised land!

They had to be reminded that without Him they were nothing, but with Him they would be victorious. Where their fathers ran away in fear, they had to be bold and strong in God and His might. They had to be reminded strongly of their ties with Him and the promise He gave that He would fight their battles. He was their backup, their strength and shield!

If they didn’t have this overview and orientation, they wouldn’t be able to do all that He commanded them to do. The battle strategy in Jericho would have baffled anyone if they didn’t have the vision of God and a connection with Him. They had to be rooted, grounded and established in their realization of Who their God was and who they were in Him!

That’s why Gilgal, where they were stripped of the old stain on them and branded by His mark, was of utmost necessity, an important milestone and the first event in the life of the nation of Israel.

What does Gilgal have to do with us today? What does it signify and mean for us today?

We who have been washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus, delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and set free from the bondage to Satan, have to come to Gilgal, not just once, but often in our lives to be circumcised. Both the Old and New Testaments instruct us that we need to circumcise our hearts.

The book of Deuteronomy gives us the answer as to why we need to circumcise our hearts: Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. Deut 30:6.

You need to time and again have Gilgal in your life so as to fulfill the first commandment – to be able to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

You need to come to Gilgal often so that you have a heart of flesh and not of stone, so that God can write His laws on your heart and mind according to the new covenant (Heb 8).

Apostle Paul declares that by baptism a circumcision done not by hands has put off the self ruled by flesh from us. In Col 2:11‭-‬12, he writes When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. NLT

This initial circumcision cuts off the umbilical cord of our connection with the Adamic heritage of sin we have acquired as mankind, cleaving away the source of our sin from us and reattaching us to the original source of our existence, God. However, this initial cutting off is just thr beginning and needs to be followed up by a constant shutting off from sin and continued connection with our Creator, if we have to be His offspring in reality.

Circumcision involves peeling back the foreskin and even so our hearts need to be divested of the hardness that constantly sets in due to unbelief, resistance, rebellion and sin. Only a heart if flesh would enable us to walk constantly in obedience to Him and His commandments.

Gilgal is inevitable and important, both for transformation and conquest of this world for God.

Strongholds cannot be conquered without first stopping at Gilgal. Gilgal has to come before Jericho can be vanquished!

Have you camped at Gilgal? Have you known a stripping away of stiffness and hardness? Have you known the pain of putting away the flesh?

Gilgal is needed if the reproach and guilt of your past is still dogging you. Gilgal must be part of your life if you still haven’t been clothed with your new identity in Christ.

Camping at Gilgal is often needed in order to remind us of who we are in Christ and God!

Have you had Gilgal in your life?

*Pics courtesy: Google images

STATELESSNESS, THE DEFAULT STATE & STATUS OF CHRISTIANS?

A couple of days ago my daughter, who is a professor of law, had shared with us her recent lecture topic: Reduction of Statelessness in South Asia. It set me thinking about the issue of statelessness and its implications.

The international legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law”. In simple terms, this means that a stateless person does not have a nationality of any country.

A stateless person is someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – in any country. In simple terms, a stateless person doesn’t have a belonginess or a sense of being part of a people. They do not belong anywhere and nobody has a care over or for them, by legal right or otherwise.

Being part of a community bestows identity as well as a sense of well-being because of the awareness of being part of a bigger whole. When some event happens, let’s say a disaster, then there is solace in knowing that we are not alone. There is comfort in knowing that we are all sailing in the same boat and others are working to help us.

This is why refugees so desperately seek to have citizenship status, so that they can become part and parcel of a country. They look for the care and concern that comes from being part of a nation. They seek the covering that comes from being part of a people. They yearn for the fellowship and friendship that comes from belonging to a community. They want a life that is solid and established instead of living on the margin of it.

Citizenship confers identity and recognition as people who have rights and legal standing. They are no longer nameless or lumped together as refugees, but exist in a sovereign state where they can carve out a life for themselves. Citizenship gives them security and settlement so that they are no longer aliens or wanderers.

In the Bible, Israel was birthed as a nation when they were delivered from bondage out of Eygpt and received God’s laws at Sinai. They became an acknowledged and accepted sovereign state only when they settled down and were established in a land. They were constituted as a nation and acquired an identity as a people only when they were rooted in a place and belonged to it.

Ancient India was made up of a number of disjointed states and kingdoms, becoming a united nation only after independence. A common flag, a code of conduct and a declaration provided statehood. Being a nation or state brings unity and imparts a sense of belonging and identity as a community.

Being part of a community and to savor the privileges of belonging is an essential need of the human psyche. Human beings need companionship, to belong and be together with others. One of the tenets and traits of the postmodern era is the need to be part of a group. That’s why, more than ever before, people are willing to adopt all sorts of behaviour or habits just to be ‘part of the crowd.’

In Eph 2:19-20 we read that: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In I Cor we read that we have all been baptized to become one body, one people and one community.

The scriptures is clear that all who believe and call on the name of Jesus have been amalgamated into one new humanity, beyond the trappings and confining of caste, creed, color etc. As believers, we have an identity as the people of God living on this earth as the representatives and witnesses of heaven, bonding to live life together as His family and His household. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened so as to grasp the riches of His glorious inheritance in His people.

However, many who are born again and baptized in Christ live as aliens, full of an orphan spirit. They move around without no sense of identity since they lack community comprehension. They have no consciousness of the fellowship that comes with being a disciple of Christ. They wander around as refugees, feeling alienated and left out in this world.

The reason for this is two-fold: Either they are ignorant of the fact because they have not been taught of what they inherited in Christ; or they have rejected the fellowship of the saints since it involves responsibility and accountability . The former can be realigned and restored by proper teaching, but the latter are to be pitied since they have no understanding of the riches that identification with a community of faith brings.

Every one who is born of God must live as the beloved Sons and Daughters of the Most High. They need to have an understanding of the family they are part of and the entitlement that comes with bearing His Name.

Unfortunately, many are yet to grasp that they are citizens of the Kingdom of God, the apple of His eye and the people of His love. They are yet to recognise and realize their rights in Christ, the freedom that is their birthright and the authority that is theirs in Christ. They live as orphans, outcasts and ostracized, not as those who are the hope of the whole world.

Statelessness is real in His Church and among His people. Many a person in His Body walks around with the wounds of being aliens and castaways. Being aware of the need for a community of faith is core to living a purposeful life on earth. Being identified with a local family of God will purge the sense of lostness and abandonment in these times. Being committed and dedicated to the Body of Christ, the church of the Living God is of utmost importance in all seasons and turns of life.

Many people of God die, as Sir Walter Scott says (in his poem Breathes there a Man with soul so dead), Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung, because they are stateless ie, not part of a local community of faith or the church of the Lord, sometimes by ignorance but often by choice!

*Pics courtesy google images

THE PARENT LEADERSHIP PARADIGM

https://youtu.be/n59ljFfdSQc

The often rehearsed concept and statement that we hear today, not just in Christian circles, but also in corporate sectors, is the term servant leadership. This has gained acceptance in contrast to and as opposed to professional leadership. I term all other previous leadership styles, viz. traditional, charismatic and bureaucratic, as professional leadership.

Traditional leadership is where power is given to the leader based on traditions of the past and their power was tied to their past leaders. The traditional leadership style is based on the belief that power is bestowed on the leader, in keeping with the traditions of the past. 

Charismatic leadership is basically the method of encouraging particular behaviours in others by way of eloquent communication, persuasion and force of personality. Charismatic leaders motivate followers to get things done or improve the way certain things are done. 

Bureaucratic leadership is one whereby employees are made to follow specific rules and lines of authority created by the superiors. These leaders function based on official regulations fixed by higher authorities within the organization. The bureaucratic leadership pattern focuses on the administrative needs an organization has and is used mostly in the public sector, which relies heavily on consistency and adherence to rules and regulations to get whatever results they seek.

In contrast, the servant leader’s goal is to serve rather than just focusing on the thriving of their company or organizations. Servant leaders have turned the traditional power leadership model upside down, putting the people, or employees in a business context, at the very top and the leader at the bottom. Armed with the attitude to serve the employees above them, servant leaders focus on ‘empowering and uplifting those who work for them rather than  commanding, showing humility instead of brandishing authority, and always looking to enhance the development of their staff members in ways that unlock potential, creativity and sense of purpose.’  

Even though the Servant Leadership concept and practice are much superior to professional leadership motifs, I believe that there is yet another leadership way which is higher and nobler. This leadership type, modelled, championed and showcased in the Bible, can be named or termed as parent leadership. 

The main focus of parent leadership is nurture rather than just achieving outcomes, attaining goals or reaching targets. It is about shaping and moulding the individual, considering them as inheritors of the leader’s character, culture, ethics, especially in work. 

Marks of parent leadership

  1. A parent leader focuses on the person in addition to overseeing the completion of the task and achieving of the desired outcome. He or she considers grooming of the individual as being of paramount importance as much as the completion of the job on hand.
  2. A parent leader measures his or her output or success by the transformation of the person, rather than just by the output gained in the successful completion of the job or project entrusted to them.
  3. A parent leader finds motivation, energy and fulfilment in the outcome of the person, ie., how the people entrusted to them shape up. They pour their enthusiasm into identifying and learning about the individual and what motivates them and then use these inputs to form the individual. 
  4. A parent leader has the uncanny ability to see below the surface and identify potential as well as weaknesses that are inherent in their trainees. Their focus will be to fortify and make room for their strengths while helping them to overcome weaknesses and flaws that will hinder the progress of the individual.
  5. A parent leader understands that changing the person, though it needs more effort and time, will ultimately result in better project results and more successful task outcomes.
  6. A parent leader takes responsibility for the individual and is empathetic, both to the dreams and failures of their team members. He or she does not throw their people under the bus, but stands up for them and pleads their cause.
  7. A parent leader considers those under him or her as disciples, protegees and inheritors, rather than as just employees or co-workers or team members.
  8. A parent leader is secure in who they are and hence do not find it hard to rejoice in the successes of their people. In fact, they feel thrilled when those under them do overtake them, for they know the part they played in that growth.
  9. A parent leader always gives his or her blessing to those who branch out from under their care. They willingly allow them to move on for they know how far they can impact. They understand that for the person to stay behind would stunt growth and therefore, release their personnel to fly high.
  10. A parent leader is never fearful of damaging his or her reputation by exercising strict discipline or strong measures. Their goal is to do so for the benefit of the person and hence are unafraid to exercise the rod, when and where it is required.

Parent leadership combines all of the other leadership styles, but adds a distinct and unique ingredient to it that spices up and flavours their craft – the art of care and nurture. 

Parent leadership is considering those given under you as your progeny and therefore, learning to rejoice in their growth and prosperity.

Parent leadership involves self-sacrifice and humility. It is to understand your own limits and limitations, comprehend the part you have to play and be willing to step back, into obscurity if needed, in order for your apprentices to move forward.

True Biblical leadership is parent leadership, especially in the church. It is no wonder leaders in the church need to have proven their mettle at home. It is in nurturing their families and taking responsibility for their growth and progress, leaders learn the art of parenting well. It is then they become eligible to lead and exercise authority in the bigger family, the church!

To the professional or traditional leader, his management is a post, a position and a vocation. 

To the servant leader, his administration is not a vocation or a style. It is a calling, stewardship and an influence! 

However, to the parent leader, his persuasion is a commitment and a sacred trust. To him or her, getting the work done is not enough; seeing their charge blossom and flower means much more. To them to see their ‘kid’ transform is reward enough.

Is it hard to believe such leaders exist? Is it a myth to expect parent leadership?

Maybe so, but I believe such leaders do exist. Many a teacher or instructor fully functions as a parent leader.

A parent leader is a rare find.

Blessed are if you find one or are under one!

*Pic courtesy google images

HANDLING Weltschmerz!

Weltschmerz is a term coined by the German author Jean-Paul, from the German, literally world-pain, also world-weariness. In its original meaning in the Deutsches Wörterbuch (German dictionary by Brothers Grimm) it denotes a deep sadness about the inadequacy or imperfection of the world.

One of the things we are battling, apart from our fight against the corona virus, is weariness and vexation. We keep thinking that the end of lockdown has come, now we can come out of quarantine, life is going to be normal again, we can pick up where we left off and finally move on with life. Then, bam, the announcement comes, the period of shutdown has been extended and you go, ‘Oh no, not again, when will this end’!

We are not just tired, but also bewildered at the turn of events as we haven’t faced anything like this before. We are flummoxed with this new way of life and how to process it. We are seeking answers for the many questions that plague our mind.

The prophet Habakkuk in the Bible can surely identify with us, for he also lived in a time and season that raised questions in his mind. He was puzzled about many things and he set about seeking answers to his genuine doubts. His book is an apt read for this season, being an accurate reflection of his mindset and his progress through his perplexity.

Let’s see what he was worried about and how he resolved his problems.

Habakkuk noted that his nation had become filled with violence and wrongdoing. Everywhere he looked, he saw strife, conflict and destruction. Habakkuk knew that he and his people were chosen by God and belonged to Him. The why did God choose to be silent and without taking any action when the nation was filled with such violence and conflict? Why did He not bring justice and back up His law by punishing those who did evil?

God’s reply was that He was going to punish and discipline Israel by an enemy nation. Now Habakkuk is even more confused and at a loss. His question: How could You God, our own Protector and Preserver, sell us to our bitter foes? How could You use foreigners who are more corrupt to discipline us, Your own people who are trying to live by Your laws? How could You, a holy God Who hates treachery, use a wicked people to fulfil Your will and Your purposes, especially with regards to Your own inheritance?

Habakkuk’s question wasn’t a matter of doubting his God or testing Him, but a dispute and puzzle of faith!

Many of us can identify with Habakkuk’s quest of of faith. We are not questioning God and His power, but His seeming abandonment of the righteous. We are often puzzled about how and why the bad people seem to thrive and prosper, while those who strive to live and be good are put at the mercy and behest of the same vicious ones? Why would a holy and righteous God use renegades who delight in brutality to rule over or penalize the good people? If He wanted to streamline His people, why not do it some other way than allowing their lives to be under the mercy of the merciless? That’s the predicament we will face with God, at one time or another!

Note that Habakkuk did not question God, but genuinely wanted clarifications for what stumped him about God. He knew his God and therefore could not understand this aspect of God – how could He use the unrighteous His instruments? It went contrary to all that Habakkuk knew of God, His ways and His nature!

Habakkuk not only enquired and voiced out questions to clarify his honest confusion, but he also waited and gave time for God to get back to him with a reply. He said “I will stand like a guard and watch. I will wait to see what the Lord will say to me. I will wait and learn how He answers my questions.” (Hab 2:1 ERV). He not only asked questions, but also looked and listened for His answer, stoid watch for like a watchman on the walls of a city.

Habakkuk’s dedication and devotion to wait until he heard from God are the key to his hearing God and a mark of his trust in God. He knew that God would indeed answer him and not ignore his search of faith. His willingness and faithfulness to watch until he received an answer from God demonstrates his stance and stand of faith.

This is where we fail and we are different from Habakkuk. Oftimes we do not have the tenacity or the patience to tarry for an answer from God. We ask or raise an enquiry, but then we scurry away do our own thing. We do not give time for God to answer nor watch for His reply. We move on to our next project that captures our attention and then form our own conclusions about what constitutes the answer to our queries. We don’t listen to what God has to say and so erroneously conclude many things, especially about the nature of God. ‘God tells the man who cares’ is a true saying, for you need to understand that He has His timing. In the right season in the correct moment, He will always answer the one who cares to wait for Him.

God did answer Habakkuk and gave him to understand that when the wicked had fulfilled their role as a tool to discipline the righteous, they would be punished. God would not overlook their evil deeds, but in the due season would destroy those who make violence a way of life. Their turn would come when they would indeed drink of the cup of God’s wrath and destruction. God would call to account those who trust in riches and feel safe from trouble because of it, the reason they feel safe to bully others. They think they are inaccessible, but God has His own time to deal with them.

In seasons of distress, when evildoers seem to go unpunished, it is time for ‘the just to live by faith’. In the season of trouble it is important to realize that God is still on the throne. Soon there will come a day when the knowledge of Him would cover the earth as waters cover it.

While the unrighteous are busy gathering riches by hook or crook so that they would be protected and free from disaster, God’s people will trust in Him. God assures Habakkuk that those who are truly innocent will be preserved through the coming judgment and oppression by their godly lifestyle for God truly rewards the right way of life.

In contrast, those that are full of evil desires, greed and extortion will not be able to withstand God’s judgements nor His punishments. They will face the consequences of their conduct and careless life.

In spite of troubled lives, we need to realize that God is indeed on the throne and one day the whole earth would recognize and acknowledge the presence and glory of God. This is our anchor and safety that will hold us to right conduct and trust. Ultimately, those who choose to live unruly and unscrupulous lives will be punished. They will not escape surely, even though for now it looks as if they are successful and untouchable.

With his questions answered and his focus clarified, Habakkuk now responds with a prayer, a song and a confession of faith.

He prays to God to demonstrate His power as of old and pleads with Him to remember to be merciful, even when He is angry with His people and doling out His punishments.

He composes a song proclaiming the might and majesty of God, with joy declaring His glory and extolling His power over all, now that his questions have been answered.

He also makes a decision and a resolve to thank God, whatever may happen or whichever circumstance he may find himself in – loss or gain. He determines that he will still sing and thank God, content that God is the One who keeps him safe, always.

He ends with the bold and positive declaration that “The Lord God causes me to be strong. He makes my feet run safely over the rocks and hills, like a deer ‘s feet.”

Habakkuk found a way out of his doubts and a means to overcome his Weltschmerz, his world-weariness.

He took his troubles to God, watched and waited for Him to answer, thus finding a solution to his questions. He found rest as well as solace in the ensuing vision he had of God and His power towards those who are His very own.

How are you handling your questions and queries, your misgivings and your misfortunes, your woes and your Weltschmerz?

Are you drowning yourself in some addiction or taking it out your frustration on others or bullying those under you?

Or are you imitating a man who also had doubts, but found a way out to solid faith?

Learn from and imitateHabakkuk iin knowing how to handle your deepest anguish.

Turn and return to God for closure on your concerns and compelling issues.

Move over from a world-view that gives you Weltschmerz to a God-view that enlarges your vision to see beyond the natural, by faith!

https://www.worshipsong.com/component/melody/songdetails/we-must-wait

We Must Wait


Verse 1
I must wait wait wait on the Lord
I must wait wait wait on the Lord
And learn my lessons well
In His timing He will tell me
What to do where to go and what to say


Verse 2
We must wait wait wait on the Lord
We must wait wait wait on the Lord
And learn our lessons well
In His timing He will tell us
What to do where to go and what to say


Verse 3
You must wait wait wait on the Lord
You must wait wait wait on the Lord
And learn Your lessons well
In His timing He will tell you
What to do where to go and what to say

CCLI Song # 38222
Randy Thomas
© 1979 Maranatha! Music (Admin. by Music Services)
CCCM Music (Maranatha! Music [Admin. by Music Services])
For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. http://www.ccli.com
CCLI License # 3225879

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

STORAGE SPACE

One of the episodes in my favorite TV series, Person of Interest by Christopher Nolan, portrays a high school student, who looks to be average but is actually a mathematical genius and a prodigy in software programing. He develops a compression algorithm that condenses terabytes into a thumb drive. He later becomes an entrepreneur and a legend in the field for providing large storage capacity in a small space.

A prime vital need of the digital world, with its bourgeoning apps and usage, is storage space. Every device that is launched is promoted by mooting certain specs, topmost of which is storage capacity – so many gigabytes more than the previous or other models. The growth of digital age escalated exponentially with increase of memory in decrease of space.

Space crunch is not an issue confined to certain cities on terra firma, but also a major factor in the digital world. Researchers are scrambling to help their companies master the market through improving the unique capabilities of their product with greater the processing speed and higher the number of applications and finally the size of the product. The smaller and thinner the model the better the saleability of the product. The smaller the device and greater the memory space became the thrust of the digital world.

With the introduction of multiple search engines, coupled with the advent of smartphones and other digital devices that help you access information instanteously and immediately as well as the ability to store that information in a small memory space, has deleted the need to remember many things or keep relevant data in mind.

No one these days even makes an effort at remembering even basic multiplication tables, or conversion rates or any simple functions. A simple touch of the phone is all that is required to perform many actions that once upon a time needed the use of the mind and its capacity for memory. Gone are the days when people would remember many people’s phone numbers as well as other details such birthdays, anniversaries and other minutae with ease.

The key to such a feat is the heart and the mind. Indeed, the heart and mind are second to none for storing and retaining information. Their ability to grow and expand is the added advantage when they are trained to do so. The heart and mind have untold and infinite capacity not just for storage, but for learning, relearning and adapting. They are more versatile and multifaceted than any instrument that man has ever invented.

King David the Psalmist in the Bible says in Ps 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” He also says in Ps 1:3 that the one who meditates (focus one’s mind) on God’s law day and night will be evergreen. The king seems to have discovered and declared that the best space for storing and preserving God’s Word are the heart and the mind.

Of course, he did not have the many storage devices and cloud facilities that we have today. He did not have access to digital tablets, though he had other storage devices such as stone tablets, papyrus rolls etc. Some would say that because he did not have all these, he was forced to use the heart and the mind as storage units. That may be true, yet all our gadgets and instruments do not work unless they have been connected or charged by a power source. They also be hacked or corrupted or even destroyed remotely. They can be shut down or made redundant by cutting of their power source.

What if you are in a place and a position where you have no access to such crutches and have to remember things, especially God’s Word? Will you become crippled and at a loss because you don’t have your devices or will you be able to tap into your in-built storage apparatus and draw input from your memory the Word needed for the hour?

Will you be able to draw strength from what you have stored of the life-giving word in your heart and mind?

All our technology and the devices they birth are only making us dependent like suckling babes. It is not wrong to use them when you have, but the question is what if you don’t have them!

We are living in a pandemic period when everyone of our systems are failing or proving to fail. Be it the educational, economic, medical, political, social or cultural construct, each of them have been shown to be of zero help in times like this. Everything around and on which we have building our lives have faltered, demonstrating their inability to help us. Technology alone is to an extent allowing us to maintain a semblance of life. When that too fails, we will be left with only the gifts God created us with and bestowed on us innately.

How about exercising and using your in-built storage capacity and facility, your heart and your mind, so as to come to your aid in times of need?

How about teaching and training our children to use theirs to the maximum to stockpile Scripture, while keeping technology as addendum?

How about giving attention to develop a cache of God’s Word in your heart and mind, tapping in to their full capacity and capability!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

WASTING OR (IN)VESTING SHUTDOWN

Shutdown, lockdown, rollbacks, cutbacks, layoffs and retrenchment are all dreaded words in the job market and industry circles. These indicate a loss, ruin, bankruptcy, failure, default, liquidation and debt. The current lockdown or shutdown is unique and unlike since it is not a result of any of these. It is an action that has been dictated and mandated as a consequence of a pandemic. However, in a way it can be said that it is not so dissimilar since there is loss here, the loss of the greatest resource on earth – human beings!

Shutting down for isolation or quarantine, and destruction are two sides of the same coin since one is the contraposition of the other. One warrants the other and one is the outcome or preventive measure of another. For example, evacuation is the last natural response or counter-measure to a flood or fire or storm, inevitable when all other efforts fail. It is done to preserve human life from becoming totally extinguished or extinct. Even though it is a moot point whether human life is worth saving, it goes without saying that human beings, made in the image of God need saving if not salvaging!

This period of lockdown that keeps extending and lengthening is aimed at saving people, not money or land or animals or plants or even the environment. It is an all-out effort to save the great and best resource of all. So to complain or crib against it is unreasonable and actually inhumane. If we haven’t seen and realised this, we would be cribbing about the measures being taken to sustain and preserve human life!

Having said that, it is time to run a reality check, to determine if we have realised and accepted that these measures are to prevent the extinction of the most endangered species of all at this time. If we have figured this out, we would know what to do or occupy ourselves with, during this confinement period. We have been restricted and contained at home, letting go of all that we once thought was needed and important for life. The question is how have been handling this enforced isolation and quarantine!

If you have been sulking and whining about being confined at home unable to go out, or putting tantrums and throwing your weight around, or needling those around you and venting your ire on them, or chafing at delays and being restless about the extension of protocol, then you have lost out!

If we are wise, we would use these extended periods of being shut up:

To recover health
With time to relax and rest, catching up on sleep would have been your priority. Weaning your system off junk food and indiscriminate eating, you would have started a regime of healthy wholesome food, proper hydration and regular exercise.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Start now!

To build and repair relationships
You would have used this time to spend time with family, getting to know them once again, grasping what makes each one tick, etc. You would have repaired breaches and built bridges in relationships, restoring those you may have lost. You would have forged new ones since you have time to talk and enquire, using the pretext of the pandemic concerns to your own advantage in this aspect. You would have tweaked your daily and weekly routine to include giving attention and showing concern for your spouse, playing and teaching your kids, put in place family activities and caught up with senior citizens in the family.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Begin now!

To learn and pick up new skills
You would have taken this season to do things you have never done before and maybe identified acumen you never realized you had, such as cooking, tailoring, painting, gardening, writing and such like. You would have picked back up a hobby you had in your school or college days, something you didn’t have time till now and enjoyed doing it alone or along with your family. You would have gone online and learnt something new, maybe another language acquired another degree or certificate may be, taken a new training, attended a workshop etc.
If you haven’t yet done it, start now!

To enjoy solitude and develop the art of meditating
Instead of being stressed out, you would have realised that you now had time to sit down and have a quiet conversation with yourself, with nature, in the quietness of the night or the early hours of the day – something you didn’t have energy or time to do because of a busy schedule. You would have learnt how to handle silence, listen to a song, heard sounds around and silently noted the rhythm and flow of life around.
If you haven’t done it till now, you still have time. Start now!

To assess and gauge your shortcomings
As your body began recouping with rest and relaxation, as your feelings and emotions began streamlining, you would have understood the mistakes you have been making, especially in relationships. You would have noted your misdeeds and found yourself wondering why you had to be so insecure or short-tempered. You would have vowed to change and become a better person, as you weighed your actions in the past and thought of how you would behave and treat others once this period is over.
If you haven’t at all, there is still time. Begin now!

To count your blessings and be thankful
Most of us have a roof over our heads, food to eat, a bed to sleep and a family that also has all these things. We have been truly blessed, especially in the light of the many migrant workers who have been stranded and trying to make their way home by walk. They have to depend on the courtesy of others and have to wing their way through life depending on the mercy of strangers. We need to count these things in our lives and be thankful to God for gifting us all things needed to exist in a comfortable way. We need to be grateful for this time to unwind, destress from hectic schedule and grace to spend moments with our family.
If you haven’t taken time to be grateful and prayerful, begin now. There’s still time to do so!

To look forward to new times and reset yourselves for a new normal
This season is so providential because we have been given the occasion to pull back, recuperate, reorient, repatriate losses and refocus for the future. Never has the human race faced such a time as this and given such a great opportunity to make amends and reorganize. It is the season to restructure our lives and set our direction according to a new normal, for life is not going to be the same.
If you haven’t thought through things, estimated the new future, sat down with the family and planned for the days ahead, don’t worry. Just do it now!

To value life and align your every priority towards preserving it
We need to understand that life is all about people, about saving and serving others around us. We need to cultivate generosity, weed out selfish narcissism, looking beyond what is of use to me and mine. We need to look past what belongs to me, what will benefit me and make every effort, as much as we can, to protect, preserve and progress life.
If you haven’t ever done it, this is the time to do so!

To understand the connectivity of humanity
We must understand that we are all part of humanity and share the same space in time. We are all brothers and sisters by virtue of being part of the human race, living in the same era in history. We need to accept and acknowledge that we are our brother’s keeper, and therefore responsible to do as much as we can to make life easier for those within our reach.
If we haven’t learnt this valuable lesson, it is time to do so!

To acknowledge the chain reaction reality of our existence
We need to seriously consider the impact and effect of being a part and parcel of the valuable flow and cycle of life. We are not living isolated and remote from others in society. We cannot afford to be estranged or detached from the community we are placed in. This pandemic has made us intensely aware and sensitized us to the domino effect and contagion impact of our existence. What happens in one remote corner of the earth will gradually but surely spread and seep into the economy, health, sociology, culture and politics of every other part of the world. We are all in a web of relationship and so cannot avoid or protect ourselves from this chain-effect.
If you have lived life as though you are the only one and that the whole world revolves around you, now is the time to change!

COVID shutdown time is a time to invest in and rethink many things! It’s a time to sit down and evaluate your life, something you may have avoided doing because of the busyness of life and the mechanical way of existence!

COVID lockdown is a Godsend, a gift from the Almighty to stand still, take stock, realign, restore and refurbish life as a whole. It is the blessing of God, a pause and reset time, a boon to be able to assess and zoom in on the essentials, weeding out the debris and extra burden we have as a species picked up on our way to what we thought was progress!

The question as we face lockdown 5.0 is: what have we done in this time and how have we used it. What have we, as individuals and families contributed towards saving and sustaining the sanctity of human life and livelihood. What are we going to do to conserve and perpetuate the human race, preventing its extinction!

The real question is: Have you been wasting or investing in and during the COVID protocols!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

WANT TO WRITE? HERE’S HOW YOU CAN!

https://youtu.be/-4zU0NFsUz0

Writing is an art, a skill and a science that can be learnt and acquired. You just need to pick a pen and paper to note things down! Do it constantly and consistently and soon it will become a practice as well as natural act.

Writing is simple – just put down what you want to put down. It can be your thoughts, your impressions, what you see, what you note, what you observe, what you feel, what you deduce, etc.

I have developed the habit of writing whenever and wherever I can, on the notepad available in my phone. When inspiration hits, I immediately store them in writing using these apps so that I don’t miss the idea or forget them in the flow of work and day!

To help you write, do these things:

1. GATHER CONTENT – Intent or aspiration or desire alone is not enough to write. You need a storehouse to draw from and a knowledge bank to draw on. Without a repertoire of content your writing will be just hot air and not solid substance that people can read and relish. If your writing is like candy floss, spun thinly out of minutiae, then those who sample your wares will not greedy to return for more.

2. BE OBSERVANT – To have a wealth of content, you need to be perceptive. Watch life around you and note the complexities as well as patterns of its flow. There is ever so much happening around you and if you care to see, your writing will have richness and nuances. So teach yourself to be alert and perceive changes around you.

3. LEARN TO PONDER – Don’t just bypass life and be satisfied to watch it. Think on what you have observed or what you see around you. Weigh and assess the events, incidents and people. Let the wheels of your mind turn and exercise, chewing on the fodder it has ingested from the world around. Digest the lessons you learn from life you see , becoming knowledgeable in the general nuances of everything.

4. BE INQUISITIVE – Explore and investigate to learn instead of simply browsing or passing by. Go a little beyond the surface and be curious to unearth new treasures that become a stock to draw on. Grow your storehouse of knowledge by being a discoverer.

5. BE A NOTE TAKER – Jot down thoughts that crop up and points that surface as you pass through your day. Recognize a nugget of wisdom that pops up on your consciousness and immediately put it down. These are the beginnings of what might later become a profound insight, an article, a poem or even a book. Your writing begins here, by noting down random ideas.

6. CARRY AROUND WRITING TOOLS – Get used to having small jotters or notebooks along with a pen. Make use of the various notepads and writing apps freely available on every mobile and iPad. There are a number of note pads or word apps such as Evernote, Penzu etc available for immediate and easy use. Exploit the capability of these gadgets to use cloud facilities for accessing and transferring data among various devices.

7. REVIEW YOUR NOTES & HONE IN ON A THEME – Time and again go back and read what you have jotted down. Set apart a time to look at some of them to see if there is a trail of thought to follow. Pursue that trail and see if you can flesh it out with some research. You can also select a topic and see if you have anything noted down relating to the topic. Maybe a number of them can be clubbed together to be compiled as a post.

8. MIND YOUR LANGUAGE – Pay attention to sentence structure, grammar rules and avoid syntax errors while writing. Your ideas need to be encapsulated in beautiful wrapping to entice the reader to continue beyond the first look. Your language can be simple but it has to be error-free.

9. EVALUATE YOUR WORK – Allow proficient writers and other knowledgeable people to read, critique and correct your work. Invite comments and concerns from friends and family. Improve your writing by accepting instructive and constructive criticisms. Do not shy away from exposing your writing to people, for it cannot then progress.

10. DISSEMINATE AND DISPERSE YOUR WRITING – Post online in whatever social media you are active on. Circulate your work among those who will appreciate your maiden effort.

11. FIND A WRITING COMMUNITY – Be part of a writing group or a writers’ conclave for it will help you grow. They will encourage your many steps and you will learn by reading their works.

12. PERSIST AND PERSEVERE – Initially you may not be able to produce much, but don’t give up. Continue writing and keep on doing it until you find your niche in this world. Do not be discouraged that your writing doesn’t flow. In the beginning it will be hard, but as you continue to push on you are sure to hit a wellspring of words. Keep on, for writing is not a sprint but a marathon!

Life is dynamic and in motion, not static and stationary. It is constantly moving, evolving and growing. It throws up enough nuggets of worth, if one is alert and sharp to catch them. Even death is part of life, possessing a beauty worth viewing and a lesson worth learning.

Capture, if you can and will, its artistry and charm in your words.

Extract, exhibit and excite others with its elegancies through your writing!

*Pics courtesy: unsplash.com

HOW I BECAME A BLOGGER & A VLOGGER!

I always had the urge to write and in the time of postal mails, post boxes and postmen, I became the letter writer of the family. Those were the days when you would eagerly await the arrival of the mail men since it was the only means of long distance communication. Telephones were good for local and national use, but international calls were costly and laborious. With the advent of the internet, the joys and pleasures of receiving a much awaited post or letter has given place to instant and immediate connectivity.

When life became busy with work, marriage and raising a family, I did lose sight of writing or penning down thoughts and observations. However, the urge and the push to become a writer began to pulsate and grow in me. I did maintain a prayer journal and a biblical meditation notebook, but had no time to be a writer or an author.

A few years ago I intentionally set aside time, an hour or so per day, to write and also joined a writers group. I began progressing as someone who could articulate more through writing rather than by speech. In the beginning it was a struggle, but a time of breakthrough came, as though a dam broke and writing became very natural. I grew in leaps and bounds for it was as though I had touched and released an everflowing spring from deep with in.

I even published a book and made it available online via Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B078HC586X/ref=cm_sw_r_apa_i_CtvZEb4SVKAXC

As of now, I have more than two hundred articles published on my blog page: https://mullingspicewordpresscom.wordpress.com/

My blog posts began to get good response and I revelled in the return of this skill. Then I began to notice the impact of videos and the reactions they garnered. I learnt that the next big thing was video blogging, especially in view of rumours of major changes in the way Google and other search engines functioned. Though wanted to generate videos, I could not as I had no training nor the necessary infrastructure for it. I was at my wit’s end and reconciled to not produce videos when I came across an awesome tool for creating videos. A software, it enabled me to create videos of my blogs and other writing without the hassle of using a camera and other equipment t needed to produce videos.

This tool, basically developed as part of content development, is called Vidnami and was originally marketed as Content Samurai. The name Vidnami comes from combining the word “Video” and the Japanese word for wave “Nami” and it relates to the idea of using video to create a positive wave of influence in the world.

Vidnami is an online video creator software that allows you to produce easy, and professional-looking videos within short minutes. You can use it to create a quick video for social media sites, blog posts, influence videos, instant ads, sales videos, online courses, property listing.

When I started using I was thrilled by how detailed the instructions wereand how easy it was to use. From last November until now, I have created more than thirty videos with just my laptop or even my phone in use. I have posted them on my own channel in YouTube.

Here is the link to one of my videos: https://youtu.be/qA91YXxACCk

Yes, there is a cost involved in using this, but the benefits outweigh what you pay. I havd never regretted the investment since the creators keep upgrading and advancing its capabilities. Also,their support system is tremendous and their community encouraged new users. Being part of it has helped me grow and learn many new things.

The major plus point for me was that they did not demand my credit card or other payment details during the trial period.

Also, I was able to get 40% off because I used the link given by one their users. It was an awesome advantage and I was thrilled that it was a lifetime offer!

If you are a content writer or developer you would really benefit from this one. If you want to improve sales or you want to develope influencer video, this is your best option.

If you just want to learn something new or just experiment with something, this is the one app you need to access.

In this age where watching something takes precedence and priority over reading something, video making is surely something you need to learn. So do check out this great tool.

There is some good news about this software.

A new 14 day Vidnami free trial in play right now. Just use the link below to avail it.

https://vidnami.com/c/SABINA1-vn-freetrial

Be adventurous and experiment with this one.

Just give it a try for two weeks.

You won’t be disappointed!

*Pics courtesy: unsplash.com and google images

A NOTE ON PASSIVITY

Passive spirit vs meek and quiet spirit is about not being lazy but possessing a calmness that’s born of dependence and trust in God.

Violent vs being aggressive is about not being unruly but being militant to claim what rightfully belongs to you in Christ and not giving place to invasion and annexing by any other.

Passive spirit Vs Timely action is about not sitting down but acting on God’s word with quiet confident dependence on God that produces a stillness of heart and mind resulting in the fruit of the Spirit.

Wrath of man vs righteous anger is about not meekly submitting to injustice but rising up against unrighteousness to protect those who are weak and defenceless and as such unable to fight for themselves.

Passive spirit is dangerous for it opens the door for demonic oppression and possession, while an alert and renewing mind will bring sensitivity to His word and a yielding to His Spirit.

Passivity is lethargy that produces slow paralysis and make a person a burden for others to carry. Jesus told the paralytic, rise and take up your bed and walk, because the way to overcome deadening of limbs is action. For then new blood flows all over rousing the atrophied limbs that have been hibernating and new life rejuvenates you to surmount the bonds of death and decay.

Passivity is antithesis to being an overcomer and taking stand in the spirit. It is sleeping on the battlefield and resting when you should be fighting and defending your own, alongside with your comrades

Passive people are dead weights that a church/family/person have to carry, sapping the energy and strength that is sorely in need for others who desperately need us.

Difference between passive people and those who genuinely need us is that the former are people of potential who refuse to work and stir themselves up, while the latter try to help themselves inspite of their shortcomings.

You can identify such ones by the words they speak which will primarily be gossip since they have time to waste. Their negativity will drain you even your active spirit and most used part of their being would be their wrong thinking and their negative words.

Difference between being active and being activity-prone is that the former know when to what to do and to rest in quiet stillness. The latter are in constant pendulum-like motion that is ceaseless and create restlessness in others. Concept of Sabbath quietness is foreign to them and what makes them tick is fear not faith!

In the church, especially in counselling, it is important to understand these concepts and concerns. Such understanding will go a long way in being able to discern and help those who require unravelling of emotional knots and deliverance from crippling fears.

Let us be skillful surgeons and nurses in recovering and restoring emotional well-being and mental health!

*Photos from unsplash.com