Thursday, December 25, 2008

It All Began In A Manger

What’s the big deal about Christmas? Why do we celebrate the birth of someone who died over 2000 years ago? Why does everything in the whole world have to come to a stand still to remember and celebrate this day? The interesting thing about it all is this – his birth wasn’t really celebrated. His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days. There were no fun fares. No fire works. No special team of Doctors ready to help with the delivery. It was an ordinary day. Were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold. The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days. There were no fun fares. No fire works

Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been nterrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is.He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event still puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use . . . Jesus. "We will call him Jesus."

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel, “His kingdom will never end.”

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

The circumstances surrounding his birth however did not diminish the concept.

Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?

The circumstances surrounding his birth however did not diminish the concept. A king was born. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6). In our world today, people are often remembered for the problems they solve. Of course, we know some people because of the problem they created (remember Osama Bin Laden?). However, they are not often remembered for long, neither are they celebrated. Solving problems is one of the ways that one can be remembered for a long time to come. Faraday is often remembered today for solving the world’s electricity problems. Jesus, the reason for the season today, solved the greatest of man’s problem – SIN

When God created the world, everything in it was good. There was no problem at all, until sin came in. The fall of man when he sinned exposed him to all kinds of things imaginable. Sickness came, Poverty got hold of him. Death overpowered him. Fear gripped him. Man entered into the “crisis” mode as a result of SIN. Sin is a sinker my dear readers. It sank the destiny of man, and still does till date. The greatest hindrance to enjoying a good life is Sin, and Jesus came to solve that problem. By hanging on the cross, he paid the debt he didn’t owe; all because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay! Celebrating Christmas without understanding this is just like celebrating a mass. Christ is what makes an ordinary mass become Christmas.

As you celebrate Christmas today, ponder on these things. Ponder on the greatest love story ever told – the story of a man who laid down his life for his friends.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Danger of Sitting on the Fence

Last Friday, as my custom is, I was training my team at work. I was training specifically on Non Value Added Work Elimination Tools. It was an eye opening session for several of them. It’s always interesting when old theories are challenged and you realize that most of the work that you are doing now are non value added- they add no value to the product or service in the eye of the consumer/consumer. I guess I will talk about this some time soon via this medium. The last quarter of the hour I spent training was used in filling out a survey form for the department. In this survey, people were supposed to answer certain questions truthfully and honestly, rating each one from a “5” (Strongly agree) to a “1” (Strongly disagree). From my experience, it is very common to see a lot of people scoring the questions “3” (Neither agree nor disagree). This amazes me and it shows clearly that the middle ground looks like a good place to hide! Can you reckon with that?

While trying to warn them of the dangers of choosing “3” for most of the questions, a story I read several years ago came to my mind. It was a perfect story to drive home the point, and I got a loud applause for it! May I share it with you, dear reader (I hope to get the same applause, lol).

There is a great danger staying in the middle of the road. Sitting on the fence is not a wise thing to do afterall.

Long time ago, a war broke out between 2 neighboring towns. The inhabitants of these towns look so much alike and they decided to devise a means to ensure that they do not kill their own kinsmen during the war. They decided to wear uniforms. Town A decided to go with a red coloured uniform while Town B chose a black uniform option. That way, they can attack each other and not people from their town. As this was going on, there was a man who thought himself wise and smart. He was afraid to join either of the armies for fear of being killed. He thought of a plan – an excellent plan to make sure that whichever way the war goes, he will be safe. He decided to sew a uniform with both colours! The front of the uniform was red while the back was black. He then went to the battlefield, and was bold enough to get right in the middle of action. Since the side of his uniform showing Red was pointing to Town A armies, and the side with Black was pointing to Town B armies, many thought him bold and daring. “What a bold fighter”, they praised! He was getting praises and commendation from both armies. In the midst of all the accolades, he got carried away and turned around, the red side of his uniform now facing the army with black uniform, and the black side of his uniform now facing the army wearing red. You can guess what happened next. He was shot on both sides! The smart guy wasn’t so wise afterwards!

What’s the morale of the story? I guess it’s quite obvious. There is a great danger staying in the middle of the road. Sitting on the fence is not a wise thing to do afterall. It may seem like a temporary solution but it always often backfires. There is no middle ground between telling the truth and telling a lie. You are either lying or telling the truth. Sitting on the fence between honesty and dishonesty poses a lot of danger to you as an individual. You will not achieve much staying in the middle of the road. Infact, I can predict that you will get the same treatment that this “wise” man got.

What happens to a car that drives in the middle of the road, especially when the road is dual carriage road? Your guess is as good as mine. May I say that the same thing happens to destinies that are always compromising? Listen, it is better to be on the wrong side of the road, than to be right at the middle! I saw a proof of this even in God’s holy book. Hear what He says

“ And to the angel of the church of the Laodeceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth……” Rev 3:14-16

Can you imagine? God almighty himself prefers that we are either “hot” or “cold”. As far as he is concerned, he doesn’t want anyone sitting on the fence. He is simply saying…” hey, let’s know where you stand”. That’s the starting point. If we know where you stand, then we will know if it’s the right or wrong place. If it’s the wrong place, then we will know what to do to get you to the right place. So, where do you stand? When it comes to morality, where do you stand? When it comes to being honest, where do you stand? When is comes to giving bribes, where do you stand? When it comes to money matters, where do you stand? When it comes to God, where do you stand? I sincerely hope you are not standing right in the middle of the road. If you are, you have two choices – Get out of the middle of the road, to any of the sides (I recommend the good side, of course), or get ready to perish!

You may just not be smart afterwards!
You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!