There Has Been A Change of Plans!

23 12 2017

Emmanuel -God With Us

I had been planning a Bible Study for our church Senior Adult group on the Christmas Story, with the title “A Messy Christmas”, when I saw a title, which caught my eye and imagination, as a much better title for my thoughts, than “A Messy Christmas”.  It was the title of a Message preached by Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church a few years ago, “There Has Been a Change of Plans”.  (I am sorry Pastor Steven, that I cannot say, I have heard this message, but I promise I will go back and listen to it this Christmas Season.  I appreciate your preaching!)

So the Christmas Story starts at Galatians 4:4, “… But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman …”  The set time, and there was a coordination of people, lives events and History all culminating to fulfill the plan of God’s Master Plan, and the major characters in the plan were unaware of the vital part they were playing in the great story.

First, there was Zachariah and Elizabeth, devout godly people who had lived their whole lives following God and yet not having a child, even in their old age!  They receive the news that their world is going to be turned upside down, by the birth of a son, who was going to be the Forerunner to the Messiah.  From a quiet priestly life to cribs and diapers and baby toys – when they should be grandparents, instead being a Daddy and Mommy to a little boy John (the Baptist).  There has been a change of plans for you, Zechariah and Elizabeth!

Then there was Mary, a teenage girl, engaged to be married to Joseph a young carpenter, dreaming of her wedding and a humble but happy home and starting a family, when she is visited by an Angel, who announces to her that she is going to have a baby imminently, and the baby is going to be the long-expected Messiah, the Saviour of the world.  The baby was not going to be born with her union with Joseph, but supernaturally!  Yes, as a virgin!  Mary, there has been a change of plans for you!

Joseph, you are a just and righteous man and you are looking forward to your marriage to Mary, and to be a good husband to her, and to raise a family and provide for them with your carpentry business in Nazareth.  But Mary is going to have a baby, and she has not committed any sin against you, but is fulfilling God’s plan to be the earthly mother of God’s son, the Savior of the world.  Joseph you can be the earthly father of Jesus.  Joseph there has been a change of plans for you!

Then there were some shepherds watching over their flocks by night, in a field in the Judean hills, with no other thought than keeping themselves awake and warm, and keeping their flock safe from the predators and any thieves who would try to steal their sheep.  An Angel announces that they need to go and see a little baby that was born that night, who was laying in a manger, in a stable, much like the ones that their sheep would use.  A very familiar place!  But the baby was going to be the Savior of the world!  (He would be their Great Shepherd – a thought I had, free to you, no charge!)  This is not going to be another boring night, because, Mr. Shepherds, there has been a change of plans for you!

Finally lets look at another group of people.  They were not even living in Judea!  They were in a far of foreign land,  They were Astronomers, studying the movement of the stars and planets, and their significance to the times and seasons!  They see a unique star appear in the sky, which as they study carefully, they recognize it is heralding the birth of a King, a King of the Jews!  They feel compelled that they must make their journey, long and arduous to see this King and worship Him.  The preparations and the explanations to their families and friends and then the long trip to Bethlehem and back!  Wise Men, Magi, there has been a change of plans for you!

To each and every person involved in the First Christmas Story, it was not a “Holly Jolly Merry Christmas”!  It was Messy!  But they knew that Emmanuel – “God With Us”, was the One who was changing the plans for them!

To me, to you Christmas 2017 might be Messy, might be heart breaking, confusing and a lot of “Why’s” and “Why now’s” and “Why me’s”!  But we can know that Emmanuel – is God With Us!  Yes our plans may have changed but God is with us this Christmas – December 2017!   May you know the Blessing of HIS Presence with you this Season!

A Landmark for me!

22 11 2017

IMG_0871November 22nd remains as a landmark in my life, and so my memory  goes to the first November 22nd that made it a landmark!  It was 1969, that would be 48 years ago, when I first arrived in the United States of America, landing in Seattle, Washington around  6.00 am on a NorthWest Airlines (presently Delta Airlines) from Tokyo, Japan (now called Narita).

I was met by Brother Sam Smith ( to friends from Seattle Bible College) our Dean, and friend with his towering figure and disarming smile!  And the rest becomes History!

Forty eight years of God’s Goodness, Grace and Love!In all these years, then the promise that God gave to Abraham has been my foundational verse, and mainstay!  He has never failed me yet!  The verses read from Genesis 12: 1-3

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

What A Great God we serve, and how great is His goodness, to us, and not one word of His promises has failed me, as Joshua said in his farewell address to his people in Joshua 23: 14,

“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”

I would encourage you TODAY to look back thankfully on ALL that God has blessed you with, and in thankfulness, bless those whom God has placed in your lives right now.


Sixth Sense or Divine Guidance?

21 11 2017

Image result for Feeding the Five Thousand

Every students nightmare is to hear the words, “Today we are going to have a quiz!  It is only one question but it will be towards half your final grade for the quarter!”

Jesus seems to do this in John 6, when we read the words, “Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.”  (NKJV)

“… Jesus looked around and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, so he asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people?” (He said this to test Philip; actually he already knew what he would do.)…” (GNT)

Here in this story, it seems like Jesus is addressing Philip but the story goes on to say, that Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was already “working the crowd”, as he was one of these people that “did not know a stranger”, and found this little boy who had a picnic lunch, with five loaves and two fish.

And Jesus, now goes about getting everyone seated, so that they can enjoy lunch together.  So when everyone is seated, Jesus takes the little boys lunch, prays and feeds the multitude – 5000 men plus women and children- over 10,000 people with the five loaves and two fish.

So, the conversation was started between Jesus and Philip, but it is prefaced by the statement, ” he was testing Philip (and the disciples), but He (Jesus) already knew what He was going to do.  What does this mean?

My mind with its fertile imagination, sees Jesus having His time of devotions, and talking to His Father in prayer and looking at the lesson plan for the day!  He is on a crash course of Training the disciples in a three year program to become “Men Who Turned The World Upside Down”  (Acts 17:6 NKJV)  or as some say turned it right side up!

So, according to the plan, the lesson is:

Trust and faith in God to provide for our needs, as we surrender what we have in our hands, into the hands of Jesus, and He will take the little we have and multiply it to bless the many.

He wants the disciples to see, that however insignificant the person is (a little boy) and however little what is handed over to Jesus is (five loaves and two fish for over 5000 men plus), when we totally surrender to God all that we are and have, “Little is Much When God is In It”!

The take away for me is that, Jesus sets us an example of how to order a productive and successful life.  As we spend time with God and ask Him, what God’s priorities are for us for the day, we hear God prompt us through His Word and strong impressions on our heart, His plan and His purpose for the day!  This is the way we will know what we will need to do when we come face to face with a problem – financial, health, social or emotional!

What a practical lesson for us to cultivate into our daily lives.  Quieten our hearts, speak to God, listen to him and follow God’s leading given to us in our quiet time!

Following an Impossible God!

12 04 2017

IMG_0176Just this morning I woke up with the thought, “God Is Crazy”!  Before you say that I am sacrilegious, and tune me out, please hear me out!  Yes I believe in a God who specializes in the Impossible and in the crazy!

Easter has always been my most favorite celebration of the Church Calendar!  I have memories of many different places where I have celebrated Easter! Colombo and Kandy in Sri Lanka!  Camrose, Alberta in Canada!  Seattle, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis … !  Yes the list goes on, and they are significant to ME, because of what God has done in my life!

I think back to my High School days in Colombo, Sri Lanka  and think of sitting in a class room, with only about three others who even called themselves Christians, while the others were Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims, and to think that God reached down and touched my life, and gave me a new life in Christ Jesus!  He changed me and put the Spirit of God in me, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead!  Wow!  Okay, how can it get better than that!

And so I start to think of this God, and the Easter Story!  That was God’s crowning moment, in raising Jesus from the dead, and He is going to do this for all of us, who believe in Jesus, use His mighty power to raise us from the dead, to an eternal life with Him in Heaven!

He starts His career by taking all the chaos that was this world, and creating form and order out of it, “Yes, I have an App for that”, He must have said!  He calls a man called Noah, and gives him a blueprint to build this huge big boat, to take his family and animals of every form and kind for the “cruise of their lifetime”!  He sends a flood of epic proportions, and recreates the structure of the early human tree!

He calls a man called Abram, and tells him to take his wife and leave the security of the business he has built with his Dad, and his home and lifestyle, and go on a road trip, camping along the way, to a better place, that He (the Impossible God) has prepared for him.  And Abram and his wife Sarai, leave all to follow this Impossible God!

The stories continue throughout history as they are recorded in the Bible, (see the Book of Hebrews chapter 11 for a sample), and also throughout the ages!  Have they stopped?  Has the number of Impossible things stopped?  I am sorry to say, they have not stopped, but they are multiplied today, as Jesus promised in the Gospel of John 14: 12 –

       “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”

Yes, and God wants us to experience some of these Impossible Things this Easter, as we see the Resurrection Power working in us, 

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11)

May I invite you to experience this Ressurection Power in the Easter of 2017, with Christ followers from around the world!


The Caravan Chronicle

2 04 2017

(Read Joshua chapters 1:9 , 2: 1-24 and Matthew 1: 5,6)

Pearl in the Sand: A Novel by [Afshar, Tessa]Joshua sends two spies into Jericho, just like Moses had sent twelve including Joshua and Caleb!  They are to spy out the land that “God had given to them”!  (1:9)

They enter the brothel that Rahab (see “Ten Women of The Bible” by Max Lucado) was running, so that they could get the town gossip, and Rahab fills them in on what the people in Jericho were feeling and thinking!  They were scared spitless because of the Israelites who’s God was working on their behalf.

Rahab said that they had heard, through the grapevine, the reporting in the Caravan Chronicle, that God had parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross over on dry ground, and how they had defeated the kings on the way, and now they were camped outside Jericho, causing fear in the hearts of the citizens of this city!

Rahab had believed what she heard and placed her trust in God, evidenced by the fact that she was willing to help the two spies!

Her faith is rewarded, and her life is spared, and she later gets married to Salmon, the Israelite … what a story that is (Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar), and they have a son … Boaz (Matthew 1:5-6), who marries Ruth (see the Book of Ruth), whose great grandson was King David, and is the lineage of Jesus!

How do we fill in the blanks of this story!  WOW!

What impressed me, was in the reading of the story of Ruth, and seeing what a “gentleman”, Boaz is, that Rahab, instilled some real godly characters into her son!  So what is the story of Rahab!

What is the GRACE of God, and what is the hilariousness of His provisions for us, who live in the 21st century and are His chosen for “such a time as this?

How would YOU fill in the blanks?

The Church – An Exciting Weekend!

28 03 2017



What an exciting weekend it has been for Eagle Brook Church in Anoka, Minnesota as the sixth campus of the church opened in its own building, with a packed and over flowing attendance!

 God is Good and Awesome!

               This campus had been meeting in a local High School, as they prayed and looked for a place of their own to meet in!  God gracious provided an old K-Mart building, which has now become a state of the building to house the Anoka Eagle Brook Church!

This sent me reminiscing on the many churches that I have attended, beginning with the Cinnamon Gardens Baptist Church, as a new born baby through the churches I attended as a young person to College days in India and then in Seattle then to Minnesota!  This also included churches I had itinerated in Canada and the USA and also in Seminar ministry.

It was a time not just of reminiscing but of evaluating my “Ecclesiology”, and what did I really believe about the church?  First, I know and firmly believe, that “The Church” is the Body of Christ, comprising of believers in every country of the world, of people of every race, language, people group and every background that we can imagine!  I am assured of this as I see how in Revelation 5: 9, 10 says,

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

And Revelation 7: 9-12 says,

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Second, I thought, our worship is going to be different, in that we will be worshiping in many languages, and in maybe in many different formats, dependent on our backgrounds, and styles – contemporary, traditional, liturgical – but we are ALL worshiping JESUS, our Redeemer and King, because HE IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED, TO BE WORSHIPED!

Third, it does not matter what type of a building we are in!  A new state of the art building, a cathedral with stain glass windows, a regular brick and mortar building, a lean-to or a half walled building with thatched roof or a tin roof!  The basement of a church, behind prison walls, under the shade of a tree in an open desert like area!  Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”!  That is the most important thing!  I am so grateful to God for enabling me to experience the love and worship of believers in many different places, as they worshipped Jesus!  An experience of what it is going to be like in Heaven!

Where is Church for you and me?  Are we celebrating the Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as My Lord and My Savior this weekend?

Some pictures of churches I have been in recently:


Enoch walking on Cloud 9!

19 02 2017

pappa-1                  I remember when I was a pre-teen and my grandfather used to visit us that he would love for me to join him as he went on his morning walks.  Normally it was mid morning, and he was always dressed in a suit jacket (open collar), and his hat and a walking cane!  This was the stylish thing to do, to carry a walking cane, and swing it with a special style!

I also liked to walk with him, because his pockets always contained candy which he would give to the neighbor kids, who would always come and talk to him.  I don’t remember any of the conversations I had with him, but I was just happy that he asked me to go with him on his walks.

I was reminded of this because as we read of Enoch in the Bible not much is said of Enoch, but what is said of him says much that we could heed for a relationship with God!

Enoch we find is in the lineage drawn between “Joseph the Carpenter” (remember him?) and Adam the first man, that God created!  He lived a total of 365 years which was “chicken feed” compared to his father Jared who lived 962 years, and Methuselah his son, recorded to be the oldest living person at 969 years!

But it says that “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22) and that “he pleased God” (Hebrews 11: 5)!   This is what drew me to Enoch!  We all desire to walk with God and to please God, especially if the end result is the same as of Enoch, because we find that it says, when Enoch walked with God and he was not, because God took him (5:24)

We see from the beginning that God liked to walk with his people.  It seems from Genesis 3, that everyday God would come and walk in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  And here he walks with Enoch!  Oh how I would love to take a walk with God in the cool of the evening, or the morning!  But, maybe it is possible!

I see them have some animated conversations about all the beauty that surrounded them, the things which God said “was good” when he created them, including the people!  I see Enoch walking on Cloud 9 for this privilege, because Hebrews 11:5 says, ‘he pleased God’.  Why does the term, “Lord of the Dance” keep popping in my head?  Is it because I see children break out into impromptu moments of dance, when they are happy?  Was Enoch like this when he was walking with God?

There was another thought about Enoch from Hebrews 11: 5 and 6, which I had not seen before.  Verse 6 always stood apart to me, but here I see that as it follows verse 5 and it connects to the mention that Enoch pleased God.  How did he do it?

Hebrews 11: 5-6 gives us the answer. By faith.  Faith in what?

1.  That He exists

2.  That He cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

So what was Enoch doing?  He believed God, and I guess he had a personal relationship with God and walked with God.

And finally I was seeing Enoch in Jude 1: 14-16 coming back with Jesus and a thousand angels in the last days… just like he was taken away!  Two people had this experience of been taken away by God, without seeing death, Elijah (2 Kings Chapter 1) and Enoch in (Genesis 5).  (Side note:  It helps to have your name start with the letter “E” if you want to experience “translation”!!!!  Just kidding.)

                     Yes, we can walk with God because he wants to walk with us, and yes we can please God, because all we need to know and believe is that God exists and that He cares to respond to me if I seek Him?