Friday, October 23, 2020

SHORT REFLECTIONS Playground Or Battlefield | What is the state of your mind?

SHORT REFLECTIONS 1.
I am starting a small series on some of my daily reflections. Hope you find them useful. If you do, drop a comment below and let me know how this helped you.

Are you tired of living below par? Some live life as though they are running on a treadmill going in the opposite direction. It's exhausting and takes you nowhere. Our mind can be like that sometimes.

I too have sometimes been caught in a web of negative thoughts that are not life-giving. 
I am learning to remind myself that I need to be alert to what I am thinking and what self-talk am I  engaged in. If not, it will become a playground for the devil to plant all sorts of weeds of worry, negativity, criticism and being judgmental.

Now when I am alert and clear-minded as the Apostle Peter reminds me in 1 Pet 4: 7, my mind becomes a battleground where I take every thought captive and make it subject to God thoughts that I am learning to wield like a two-edged sword to fight off doubt, anxiety, anger, and more.

No more am I taken over by weeds as I begin to carefully tend the garden of my heart.

How do I do this?
I begin to think about things that are good, noble, loving, respectful and pure. I repent of my negative thinking and replace thought with thought.

I replace anxious thoughts with trust
I replace unforgiving thoughts with forgiveness.
I replace bitterness with kindness.
I replace thoughts of lack with promises of provision

When I do this I become what I think - matching my new nature in Christ.
I can learn not only to deflect the fiery darts of evil but I can turn it on its head and not just maintain ground but take ground for Jesus. Instead of being trapped by negative thoughts which perpetuate a negative situation I can generate positive thoughts that lead to positive action. What the enemy meant for evil I take and fling it back like a boomerang.

With Christ in me, I can chase 10,000. With Christ in me, I am able to conquer every thought. To every problem, there is a promise or provision. I just need to learn to take hold of it and stand on some eternal truths.

Facts may say that the situation is bad. Truth tells me God can work all things out for my good.
Facts may say I have an illness. Truth tells me I have a God who heals.
Facts may say there is a relational breakdown. Truth says He has given me the ministry of reconciliation and love is the greatest of all virtues.
When I do this I ware down the enemy of my soul.

A renewed mind leads to a transformed life.

Renewing the mind takes time. It is a process. I need to persevere and not give up. So will your mind be a playground for the devil or a battleground where you are more than a conqueror?


Navaz D'Cruz


Friday, May 22, 2020

No well worn paths



 NO WELL WORN PATH

It's here there everywhere 
On every tabletop
Very door knob
Scrub, clean, scrub, clean
Drive out that demon
That cannot be seen

Stay indoors within four walls
Don't touch, don't cough
An arms-length distance may be enough
Pray every day to keep this at bay
God may this not have come to stay

Forming new rhythms
New normal everyone says
Isolation is your friend
You  don't want to land up dead in the end
New rhythms of life and conversing
Face to face is now zooming

This is a new era
Never walked before
No forefather can tell us
What to expect now
We will have to forge through
No well-worn paths
Make a new history
Can't learn from the past

Go on we must
In God we trust
He forever guides and leads
A cloud for daylight
A flame by night
Goodness pursuing me
All the days of my life.

Navaz DCruz

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Kill The Virus Not Time

Corona has got all our attention. The whole world has zoomed in with microscopic lenses dissecting and digesting every piece of information coming its way.  We do magnify what we focus on.

What should the Christian response be? I have been pondering on a few things.

 For a Christian, nothing happens by accident and nothing is ever wasted in the kingdom of God.

The question to ask is what does God want to be for me now and what does he want of me?
Like Isaiah, we need to see the Lord high and lifted up above all. Isaiah 6:1-3. In a national crisis, Isaiah knew what to focus on and that it's what He magnified -  The Lord Almighty. He is sovereign and Is not taken by surprise.
The whole world's focus is on the virus. What we focus on in the next few days is very important. 

Many of us have grumbled that the work scene is so bad and that we have no time to think or breathe. Now we have all the time in the world! How will we steward this time? What will we do with this bonus time given to us? How will we use this gift? Will we invest it or squander it?

As children of God are never to be under circumstances. We are called to reign and rule in every situation. What is the Spirit of God saying to us? He is not a silent bystander to what is happening.

I believe this sudden stop is for a sharp change in direction. God wants to do some fundamental changes in our thinking and how we do life, family, work and church.

This is a second chance for some. 

When the famine hit Egypt, Joseph was not taken by surprise. He prepared not only for his country but also for those around. 
This is a time for us to meditate on and store up the Word of God in our hearts so that not only will we not go hungry but we will be able to feed others as well.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭2:2‬ ‭Be prepared to give people an answer for the hope to which we are called.

What Satan meant for evil God will work out for our good. The devil wants to grip is with fear. We need to focus on faith. He wants us to panic but will be in perfect peace as  Peace Himself dwells in our hearts.

This is a classic bump and lift. Satan comes to steal kill and destroy. It's got his fingerprints all over it. This is not the hand of God as some may think. Jesus said I have come to give life in all its abundance and to destroy the works of darkness not add to it.

We live in a fallen world and sickness and disease and trouble are a part is it. One day the earth will be redeemed and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Till then we will face trials of many kinds but we can take heart as Jesus has overcome and we are overcomers through Him. God can and will use any situation for his glory.

So what is Satan trying to distract us from? Let us use this time well and redeem it. While he is out to steal our peace and joy let's spend time praising God.
While he is literally trying to kill us off let's be sensible and take all the precautions. Let us also take this time to breathe fresh life into our families, marriages, other relationships, be a good neighbor to those who need help, etc.

Where he is trying to destroy countries economies let's steward the work from home well and not add to our company's losses. Let's see how we can help the poor.

This is a God-given time not to be squandered. What will you do during this time that you have always wanted to but never had time to? 

On another note but it seems to fit in here. Early this year I felt the Lord impress on my heart that we would do church differently. In a new era, you have to build a new template. We are in a new decade and a New Era.

I felt we would often meet in smaller settings. Home meetings will become a new normal and we will have to train people to do that. I feel every few Sundays we as a church should do something to engage the community, the neighborhood in which we live. This is the only way we as Christ-followers will make a real impact and be the salt and light. We are to be the aroma of Christ.

This is not a time to gather and huddle but to scatter and influence. We are to be the healing for the nations. We need to be those oaks of righteousness,  the big tree in the garden where all hail the birds take shelter. 

Let's redeem Corona and use this time to bring the life of Christ into our homes, churches, and communities.

Kill the virus  not time.




Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Place At The Table



A place at the table
Face to face
Equal
Not standing behind
In the shadows
Not hushed into silence
To numb our thoughts, our thinking.
But a place at the table
Where we are seen as able
To bring wisdom, clarity and
Make a difference!!

And where there is none
We will craft our own
Making room for many voices 
To be raised in a joined chorus
Speaking of, speaking out speaking for
Those whose voices cannot be heard
The ones silenced
The ones weak and small
Frail and afraid
We create a table
To bring transformation
To bring change


Navaz D'Cruz

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Love, love me do !


LOVE, LOVE ME DO

A new year, a new decade, a page, a new chapter. It is indeed a season for new beginnings. Yet,
These are some timeless truths we need to anchor in and remind ourselves.

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, goals, and plans all of which is very good to in order to live with purpose and intent. I do it myself.
Let me share one  of my goals with you for this new season, nay for a lifetime actually.

My goal is to be more loving. I am by nature a doer. I feel fulfilled in doing tasks with many boxes ticked off. That also happens to be my love language i.e. serving people is what I do.

However, I ask myself a question: how well I am doing on being? Can I love in ways that others feel loved and receive love?

This makes me reflect on two passages which talk about love and challenge us. However, both have different approaches and standards.

The Pharisee, teacher, and ruler of the law were questioning and challenging Jesus’ authority and knowledge of scriptures. They were seeking to set a trap.
Imagine challenging the WORD OF GOD on the Word of God!! What utter foolishness. That is what spiritual pride and blindness do to us.

They tried to trap him by asking him of the Big 10 which was No 1.

Any God fearing Jew knew the answer to that:  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.And these words, which I command  Deut 6:4-6

To this Jesus added, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37-40
It was not addition really, but a summation of all the other 9. That sure tied the Pharisees in knots because they always wanted to get away with the bare minimum, counting dill and cumin.

Think about it. How do I love myself? Some of us love ourselves more and some less. Our love for ourselves can be distorted by life’s circumstances, experiences, culture, upbringing and what our significant others said to us, and how they treated us.

We can never love or give more than we give ourselves. For example if I don’t believe I deserve to live well, or dress well or earn well; chances are I will think others don’t need either and could even sit in judgment of any deviations from my standard. Mark that I did not say God’s standard.

The other thing that can happen is I could then give motivated by guilt or obligation.

Water finds its own level. That is where and how our love for others will rise and fall. Is this a standard to live by?
In the second passage, Jesus blows it out of the water in
 John 13:34
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This was for his disciples alone- not for the Pharisee or the crowds. To his disciples he gave them a New Commandment – to love as He loves us!

Now this makes perfect sense. Why would Jesus point to an imperfect flawed standard of love like us? He has always been the standard

He has never referred to anything but himself as being The way, The Truth and The Life.  Why, he even swears by himself because there was nothing higher to swear by! God is love. It is the essence of his being. Only He is perfect love and can love perfectly.

His perfect demonstration of love was in him leaving heaven to become a human, identifying with us, and then dying in our place.

This is the truest and highest standard of love. Jesus said it himself – greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for a friend. You are my friends…

So loving your neighbor as yourself must come second to this greatest commandment.

As I think and ponder over this, I am reminded that I do not live by the law. I have been set free from the law. However, this is not so I can live at a lower standard. On the contrary, the bar has been raised to that of Jesus himself being my model.

If I keep this plumb line of love before me, I will make good choices not only for me but also for those around me.

The effect of loving as Jesus and not just to the measure that I love myself is that the world will be made aware of who Jesus is and that we truly belong to Him.

That is so powerful!! Is it no wonder that we fall into the trap of shifting dill and cumin? The devil would keep us busy counting from 1 to 7 and Jesus’ tongue in cheek response to that was not 7 but 70!

This year I want to remind myself to take
that love quotient higher and love as Jesus did. Do you?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Continuum - Overflowing with thankfulness | Part 4

PART 4

The Continuum Part 4

I am concluding my reflections in this very rich passage of scripture. You can read Part 1 by clicking here  Part 2 by clicking here and Part 3 by clicking here


Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Over the past couple of weeks, my reflection has been in this passage that is so rich in content, each word or phrase having so much weight behind it.

I come to the last phrase in this passage: ”overflowing with thankfulness”


This last phrase intrigued me. He starts with being rooted, built up, and strengthened in the faith. A natural flow from this could have been prayer. But he throws thankfulness into the mix and not just any kind. Thankfulness that is overflowing and in abundance.

It made me think of how often my thankfulness is just a trickle. What does overflowing with thankfulness look like?

The last year was a very challenging season. I was challenged to practice gratitude, declaring faith and blessing over every situation on a daily basis. I ritualistically went through my list of things that I wanted to give thanks for in order to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving. This list comprised of the simple mundane things of life. As I did this, my thanksgiving list and its scope began to grow. 

Now every morning when I wake up and draw the curtains of my bedroom back I look out
and thank God for the vast expanse of the lush forest before me. I think God for the view with which I am blessed. I go on to thank god for my husband, my kids and focusing on all the good in them.
Have I become a person overflowing with thanksgiving? Not yet, but I am getting there.

WHY SHOULD I GIVE THANKS?
Why is Thanksgiving so important? Is God an egomaniac who needs us to praise Him? 

God does not need anything from us of anyone or anything. He is complete in himself. The thanksgiving is all for our benefit. It requires humility to acknowledge that the source of goodness that you enjoy is outside of yourself. You did not create it. It is acknowledging greatness in someone else. Thanking God is acknowledging Him as the source of all blessing and goodness.

Scripture is full of commands and encouragement to be thankful. The Psalms is full of it.
Paul commands us to give thanks always to praise God with thankfulness.
ManyPsalms start with this common refrain; “give thanks to God for His love endures forever” This is enough reason. His love toward us is lasting and not fleeting or frivolous.

WHAT SHOULD I GIVE THANKS FOR?
What should we thank him for? Thank God for who He is – our Father, our savior, The Lord of all. Thank God for His general blessing on all the earth. This is called common grace for it rains on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Thank God for His specific grace on your life. Start with the amazing grace He has shown you at the time you were saved: for is redemption and restoration work in our lives. Then thank him for the many other blessings: physical, financial, relational, health, material etc. Stretch yourself to be thankful for everything.

See how this habit will renew your mind – it will change a negative outlook to one full of faith and Hope will rise in your heart for dead situations. I have learned a lot about this in the last year and I believe I am only scratching the surface.

HOW DO I START?

Do a 40-day challenge of thankfulness. Have a list posted where you can see it and go through it on a daily basis.

 Every day I thank God for blessing my children and all that God is going to do in and through them. I pray  blessing and prophesy over their future calling our destiny in them. I thank God for my marriage and what God has done in us this far and ask Him to keep us strong in His love all our days. I thank God for our business and his amazing provision. I thank God for the church; and how God has blessed us and entrusted us with his people.
So get your list ready and start thanking God and see what miracles will take place in your life.

The turnaround will happen in your heart first and then in your circumstances. Thankfulness is the slender sinew that moves the hand of God to act.
We will find ourselves moving from a trickle of thanksgiving to a torrent. Will He not open the floodgates of blessings into our lives?

This brings me to the end of my reflections on these two verses. As I encourage myself I encourage you too to CONTINUE to grow strong, continue to build up your faith, continue to stay rooted in the things you have been taught and continue to grow in thankfulness.

If you found this blog helpful why not share it with your friends and drop me a line in the comments below and share how you have grown in your journey of being a thankful person.

Navaz DCruz
Oct 2018
( This is the concluding blog in this 4 part series)


Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Continuum | Part 3



PART 3
The Continuum Part 3

I am continuing my refelctions in this very rich passage of scripture. You can read Part 1 by clicking here and Part 2 by clicking here.

Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Paul goes on to encourage the Colossians to, continue to be strengthened in the faith. What does this man? He is asking them to make themselves strong. It begs the question; why should they do this, what should they make themselves strong in and how should they make themselves strong?

Let us reflect on each of these components.

WHY?

This becomes evident in the verses that follow verse7. We will come to that in a bit.
I think to myself about the different things that I can be strong in- many things can shape my thinking, my opinions and I can become strong in those. 

Having strong convictions is a very good quality. Or else I will be taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.” Col 2:8.

Therefore, what are these convictions? What has shaped them – what is the value system and the underlying ethos of those convictions?
People today have strong convictions about many things viz. animal rights, forest conservation etc. Some of these things are not bad in themselves but if I do not have a healthy overarching paradigm for my understanding of life, my environment etc. my convictions could get skewed and a little misplaced.

The Colossians were not strangers to these threats as we can see from the warning that follows in verse 8. Paul is warning them not to be swayed by every wind of doctrine or argument or new-fangled idea that was floating around. People were mixing what they were taught with the philosophies of the day, the prevailing religious beliefs, a mixture of the law and grace. It was starting to look like a hot mess. And Paul was cautioning them against the adulteration of the gospel but to continue in what they were taught by the apostles and other trustworthy leaders

Are we not facing the same today? What was considered wrong or sinful in the bible is now being undermined and challenged? Fresh laws are drawn up every so often to call wrong right and vice versa. To call sin, sin has indeed now become “a sin”. What a tragedy!! Humanism has always tried to replace God and His standard as being the plumb line for our lives.

I like the way Paul always states the principle first and then addresses the practice. This is important lest we dismiss the principle as Paul’s opinion that we have an option to be convinced of or not.

So the principle that Paul is stating is: Be strengthened in the faith.  From this, I understand that there I things that I could get strong in that could lead me away from the faith. Do not find strength in other things like one’s career, money, relationships, other philosophies etc.
I need to find my strength in the faith.

WHAT IS THAT?

We find this phrase “strengthened in the faith’ in many other places ( Acts 16:5, 1Cor 16:13, 1Pet 5:9, Rom 4:20). What does Paul mean by faith? I believe it is a body of beliefs.

 I believe he is referring to our faith in the Lord Jesus as our only savior. Our faith in the complete work of the Cross, being saved and sustained by Grace alone and in Christ alone. Our belief in  God the Father Son and the Holy Spirit. Our belief in the resurrection and the return of Jesus. Our belief in eternal life. Our belief in the Church and the unity of the body of Christ. This has been beautifully encapsulated in the Apostles Creed written in 390AD.

“As you were taught..”
We are to hold fast to the teaching that is in scripture and not waver from it. What has been taught? It is also important to know who is teaching me. Is the church that I am a part of preaching the full gospel in an undiluted way? Is it preaching sin, repentance, forgiveness, grace and all the rich inheritance we come into because of accepting Jesus sacrifice in the cross?

As we meditate on these truths each day, we will be strengthened in the faith.
We will get strong in the faith and what we believe and we will get strong by what we have come to believe. It will put strength into our soul and Spirit.
I pause to reflect on this…



HOW DO I GET STRONG IN THE FAITH?

I look back at my life and see that I started the habit of spending time with God and His Word when I was in school. I started maintaining a journal when I was around 13-14. That daily chewing on scripture morsel by morsel is what has made my faith strong today.
It’s not reading a whole chunk of scripture once a month that will do it for you. It’s that little bite-size pieces each day – those verses that you meditate upon that start to do its work for the Word of God is living and active (Heb4:12-13).

We are transformed by the renewing of our mind and allow our thinking to be retrained and shaped by scripture. Slowly the word becomes the plumb line that shows us when I am off balanced in my thinking or behavior.

It is not the random reading of scripture or only a diet of the Psalms that will make you strong. It's taking in the whole counsel of the Word of God right from Genesis to Revelation and all those difficult books like Leviticus,, Deuteronomy, Ezekiel in between.

I have read the Bible from cover from cover more times than I can recount and it has been an enriching experience with new treasures to discover each time. I love the Word of God. It is my treasure, my comfort, my compass, my delight. It is the first place I run to when I need to be strengthened of when I need guidance.

I have used devotionals books etc as supplementary tools but they can never replace the Bible.

When I meditate on the Word of God consistently my faith becomes strong and I become a strong person too. When this happens, I am “able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:2)


As I end on my reflections today, can I ask you a question? How do you get strong in the faith? Maybe you would like to share your journey, and what you have found helpful in the comments below. If you have enjoyed what you are reading please share this blog with your friends on any social media you use. Why not WhatsApp it to a friend right now?

Navaz DCruz
(Concluding Part to follow)

For PART 1 Click here & PART 2