Monthly Archives: May 2012

Have we lost the art of conversation?


When people are together in a family, which happens all but only a few minutes a day, each one wants to tend electronic gadgetry or feign tiredness. The art of conversation should be our oxygen, we should be endlessly interested in people – at least the family – and find time in our lives to make face to face conversations. I agree with the blogger here completely.


This recent think-piece in The New York Times argues that we have:

At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. We text (and shop and go on Facebook) during classes and when we’re on dates…

We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.

One of the rituals my husband and I enjoy is my driving him to the commuter train station in the morning. It’s only about 10 minutes door…

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Stronger Together


This blog post is the part of a six-post series paraphrased from the sermons of Pastor Mark Hughes of the Church of the Rock, Winnipeg in connection with the ‘40-Days of Community’ small-groups initiative. 40-Days of Community is a method of extending love in the way Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church has demonstrated. Ideas in this series are not mine, I have only a paraphrasing role. 

One of the indelible images from the 1992 Games: Jim Redmond, right, guided his injured son, Derek, across the finish line in a 400-meter semifinal. Taking up another’s burden is an exemplary community initiative. Even Jesus needed Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. Picture and the first line courtesy of Wikipedia


1 Thessalonians 5:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

God intended us to be interdependent, not independent. There are 58 instances of ‘one another’s in the New Testament. 

David transformed a rag tag men into mighty men from 1 Samuel 22  to 1 Chronicles 11!

1 Samuel 22

New International Version (NIV)

David at Adullam and Mizpah

22 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

1 Chronicles 11

New International Version (NIV)

David’s Mighty Warriors

10 These were the chiefs of David’s mighty warriors—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the Lord had promised — 11 this is the list of David’s mighty warriors:

Examples of inter-dependencies:

  • First-ever Everest climbing feat of Edmund Hillary in 1953 could not have been possible without his more experienced companion Tensing Norgay. 
  •  Olympians, rock stars, actors can’t do the feats alone. 
  • Gates’s strategy is not to do it alone, but hire the best candidates even better than himself. 
  • Single snow flakes are the most ephemeral of things that would melt in the palm, but once joined into a big mass, it would stop anything -even an oceangoing vessel (like Titanic). 


T- tell them they can do it; N- Never stand alone; T- Take up the burden when they can no longer take it. 

T – Tell : 

 Matthew 10

New International Version (NIV)

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Jesus was not teaching here, he was motivating the disciples. 

He encouraged, affirmed and empowered them. 

People do amazing things when they are encouraged. Examples: 

  • University experiment – endurance of people to stand in bucket of ice doubled in time when cheered on. 
  • Writing club in the University of Wisconsin. Two groups were formed – female club called Wranglers always encouraged writers with positive feedbacks,  men’s club called Stranglers always excoriated and eviscerated the writers. In the end the encouragers produced five world class writers, while the Stranglers produced none. 
  • Pastor Keith’s son made a dive back into a shallow pool when egged on by onlookers. But he landed flat on water and suffered excruciating pain. When asked why he did it, he said everyone wanted him to do it. 

Even Jesus need affirmation! 

  • God spoke to Joshua to be strong and courageous. 
  • God calls Gideon ‘mighty man of valour’. 
  • Even Jesus was encouraged by God. The voice from heaven said: ” He is my favourite son.’
  • Everyone craves for encouragement. 9th graders in a Morris school were asked to write positives about their friends. Many years later one of them died in Vietnam war. But he was discovered carrying the battered piece of paper in which his friends had written words of encouragement. They were precious to him. It was found out in his funeral that most of his old classmates were holding on to these pieces of paper as well. 

We empower children to walk by calling out sweetly to them. 

But later we forget and refuse to encourage our children when they are teenagers. If we did, they would do amazing things. 

N – Never Stand Alone. 

  • Samson failed, not because womanizing was his weakness, but because he was a loner, never obeying even his parents.
  • David captained 400 ragtag men to make them mighty, but he fell to Bethsada when he sent all of them away to war and when David was alone.
  • Daniel 3. 16 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. “If they were not three together, they probably would not defy the mighty king. They resisted peer pressure and refused to smoke into crispy critters. \
  • Don Bennet lost his one leg in a boating accident; but he later he founded amputee soccer and did even mountain climbing. He attributed the success to others who helped him. 

T- Take up the burden

  • Even Jesus had his burden of cross taken off him near Golgotha. Simon helped him. 
  • Everyone needs somebody to take their burdens when they can no longer bear it. \
  • Derek Redmond was a record holding British sprinter. But in Soul Olympics he could not win. He injured his hamstring and was unable to finish the race. His father helped him to finish the race, which became the subject of one of Olympic committee’s  ‘Celebrate Humanity’ videos. 

As a postscript: It is Jim Redmond, not Derek who was selected to carry the 2012 London Olympic torch. 


This blog post is the part of a six-post series paraphrased from the sermons of Pastor Mark Hughes of the Church of the Rock, Winnipeg in connection with the ‘40-Days of Community’ small-groups initiative. 40-Days of Community is a method of extending love in the way Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church has demonstrated. Ideas in this series are not mine, I have only a paraphrasing role. 

Proverbs 18: 24

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

How to have friends? Must be friendly first. Then you will have no dearth of friends.

Communication: Human beings have complex communication powers – 1000’s of languages, not counting the grunts! Animals have language too; but it is very limited.


Facebook friendship is shallow. 100s of friends, but they would not be available for even one minute of face-to-face talking.

Three types of friendships:

Statistically on 10% of men share their intimate thoughts; on the other hand, 35% women have friends with whom they share.

There are three elements of getting closer together in friendship. The acronym for these points is GLU – short for glue. G for grinding, L for loving, U for unselfishness.

G for Grinding: Like iron on iron, grinding produces sharpness. Having intimatemoments with others draw them closer. Camping, fishing, travelling, together maypresent discomforts in comparison with the cosy comforts of the home; but theyproduce lasting relationships. Superficial relationships are aggravated in the processto meaningful ones.

L for love:

Children cannot grow without love. Food and shelter are not everything. Without love, they die.

Sexuality is not about intimacy. Girls grow up thinking that in order to be attractive and desirable, they should be sexually appealing, which is wrong.

Love is not an emotion; it is a serious decision.

U – unselfishness

Love requires sacrifice:

John 3.16:  For God so loved(A) the world that he gave(B) his one and only Son,(C) that whoever believes(D) in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Selfishness is the opposite of love.


Closer Together

Bigger together


This blog post is the part of a six-post series paraphrased from the sermons of Pastor Mark Hughes of the Church of the Rock, Winnipeg in connection with the ‘40-Days of Community’ small-groups initiative. 40-Days of Community is a method of extending love in the way Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church has demonstrated. Ideas in this series are not mine, I have only a paraphrasing role. 

In the bible fishing is the metaphor for soul winning: boats are the churches and nets, the relationships.

Now examine two biblical episodes of fishing. Although most of Jesus‘s disciples were fishermen, they are not shown as good fishermen in the gospels. They could be called boaters.

Examine two instances when the disciples are fishing. Scene -1 is when the first disciples were conscripted. The fishermen are having a hard time catching fish, but on Jesus’ bidding they catch a lot of fish. Sure enough, they catch so much fish that the net begins to break.

Luke 5: 4-6


When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

Fast forward three and half years and scene – 2 appears. Sea of Galilee again. The disciples, who were fishermen- nay, boaters – are at it again, toiling without catching any fish. Now the risen Jesus appears and instructs them to cast the net on the opposite side of the boat.

John 21.6


He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Studies of ancient Galilean ships have shown that the ‘other side of the boat’ is only 7 ½ feet across and indeed the fish could swim. Come to think of it, there really isn’t any difference in left side or right side of the boat as far as the fish is concerned. Is there a fishing sweet spot? However, they did catch lots of large fish. But amazingly the net doesn’t break this time. Contrast this with the previous instance when the net began to break.

John 21.10


Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, but even with so many the net was not torn.

In the second instance, Jesus makes the net or the relationships stronger. Little wonder that three weeks later, Peter is able to preach and influence 3000 Jews to follow him.

NET is the acronym for Bigger Together.

N : Kneel


2 Corinthians 4: The god  this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers.

Ephesians 1:18


I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.

Apostle Paul was blinded as Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted Jews. Scales fell from his eyes when he was enlightened, and he could clearly see.

Paul gives a clue why his blindness was lifted.

Romans 16:7

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews(A) who have been in prison with me.(B) They are outstanding among[a] the apostles, and they were in Christ(C) before I was.

Andronicus and Junia had probably been praying for Saul!

If someone asked Andronicus and Julia in those days of cruel Saul, they would likely say: “He’s an idiot, but we are praying for him.”

Kneeling is the first step in winning the souls.

E – Extend: It was found in a survey that 3 out of 5 people are willing to attend a church if invited. In other words, people are not going to churches because no one invites them.

Jesus was seen at the feast of a rich tax collector and Jew, Levi. He was known as a friend of sinners. He famously contended that only sick people needed a physician. We find this sinner, Levi, as Mathew the disciple. It is the power of extension. Jesus’s disciples were an unlikely motley crowd of opposites – Simon the zealot and Mathew the tax collector, both served in the same disparate group. A Jewish zealot is against the Roman occupation, whereas tax  collectors want to see the regime stay.

T- tell: There is no argument against your personal story. You may not be as good as your audience in the other theories of the world and the audience can outsmart you.