On September 10, the World Suicide Prevention Day is observed. We live in a world where we meet a lot of people who show suicidal tendencies. And we also meet a lot of people who are into gaming addiction. What I present below is one way we can bring the good news to those who show suicidal tendencies or those who are gaming addicted:
Blue Whale. We are not talking about the big fish in the sea. The “Blue Whale,” referred to in this piece, is an online game that ultimately dares its players to act out a death-wish – their own! This smartphone game pushes the users of this game to carve an outline of a Blue Whale on their skin and eventually drives them into suicide. That’s one reason this game got the name “whale” – a fish with suicidal tendencies that is known at times to deliberately swim towards beaches only to die. If a player refuses to obey the “dare” for a dangerous task, threats such as, “We will have your parents killed…” rapidly follows. Yes people – including children and teens – World-over are either talking about the Blue Whale challenge or playing it.
The Blue Whale is ultimately indicative of a “true tale” – certain truths about Life – life about living with capital L. Only a person deeply disillusioned with life would take the lead from games such as this and eventually decide to end it. But the Bible, God’s Word in human words, presents Satan as the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. It is quite possible that Satan uses online games such as the Blue Whale, get unsuspecting folks to fall-in-line with his plan of destruction. In the Bible, we read of a demon-influenced man ‘cutting himself with stones’ – attempting suicide (Mark 5:5). Satan does not just sow inside of us thoughts of suicide. The Bible teaches that His primary goal is to lead us towards fleeting-pleasure offering sin – something that separates us from God and robs us of all lasting joy. “Joy” leaving our lives, when “Sin” enters is not just a fact found in the Bible (Lamentations 5:15; Psalm 51:12) but an relatable experience in our day-to-day lives.
No, we do not read of anyone in the Bible narrative playing the Blue Whale game. But we do read of some folk who ended up committing suicide. The circumstances in which they committed suicide gives us key-perspectives about why people think of taking their own life. Abimelech (See Judges 9:54 in the Bible) did not want to be killed by a woman, and so he asked a young man to kill him instead. We see here PRIDE (the first ever sin of the universe, according to the Bible) cannot give us purpose and meaning in life. But, tragically can be instrumental in the finishing of our life. King Saul feared torture by enemy forces as a prisoner of war and he decided to fall onto his sword while on a battle field to finish his life (See I Samuel 31:4 in the Bible). In his case, PANIC (the result of sin according to the Bible), robbed him of his desire to live and he chose to put a full-stop to his own life. Ahithophel, a professional Counsellor to the king, upon discovering that his advice was not followed, decided to hang till he died. He chose to hang, instead of a life of having to hang his head in shame. However awesome a PROFESSION is, it cannot bring that person’s meaning, purpose, lasting joy in life. The fifth person as per the records of the Bible, who committed suicide was Judas. The hole in his heart became bigger after receiving a PAY for leading an arresting party to the place the only God-in-flesh Jesus often met with his disciples. We have talked about a number of Ps in the above paragraph in connection with suicide. However there is another P who enables us to overcome suicidal tendencies. That is the Prince of Peace.
When he knew for sure the prisoners entrusted by the Government under his care – including the preachers of Jesus, namely, Paul and Silas – has escaped the prison he was incharge of, following a massive earthquake, this jailor we read about in the Bible, drew his sword and was about to end his life (Acts 16:25-27). That’s when Paul shouted, ‘Do not harm yourself’ and introduced Jesus, the Prince of Peace to this Jailor who immediately abandoned his suicide plans (Acts 16:28-31). When Jesus really comes into your life every thought of suicide will fly away! And life will become meaningful! Instead of choosing the suicide rope, choose hope that is only available in Christ Jesus!
This leads me to a well-known statement that Jesus made that is found recorded in the Bible: “I have come to give Life – Life to the full”(in John 10:10). This implies, apart from the “alone and apart from everyone” Jesus (Jesus said he was the ONLY WAY in John 14:6 of the Bible) no one can find that paramount peace, that supreme serenity, that maximum meaning, that Himalayan happiness. Apostle Paul, a Jesus-follower, wrote about the “purpose in each step” (I Corinthians 9:26, NLT, The Bible) that Jesus gave him, when he followed Jesus through the smooth and stormy phases of his life.
One of Jesus’ names in the Bible is this: “Author of Life” (Acts 3:15). He is also the maker of life – this the Bible teaches (John 1:3). Human Life was made “for” Jesus Christ, the Bible notes (Colossians 1:16-17). When we wade though “the book of life’s journey” with a living “for” Jesus, life will become meaningful and purposeful!
The same Jesus who said, “I have come to give you life,” also mentioned that he came to die as a ransom for the sins of the World. This, the Bible records (Mark 10:45). That was how he could offer us a meaningful life – through his cruel death on the Cross. When Jesus shed his precious, sinless blood for us, he opened the door for each one of us to escape from living an “empty” life on this earth, the Bible declares (I Peter 1:18).
Jesus rose from the Dead. Jesus promised to return again to judge the World. Those who firmly and finally reject Jesus, the name of the only person who qualifies to save humankind by the virtue of his absolute sinlessness, will live a life of “living” hell here and now and go to a “literal” hell. This the Bible, a book which has never gone wrong when it comes to predictions, predicts.
What should we do now? Turn from sin (Luke 13:1-5, The Bible). Come to Christ in faith (Matthew 11:28 & John 1:12, The Bible). Come now (2 Corinthians 6:2, The Bible).
(This article was published in Aim Magazine, Sept 2021 issue. Aim is published by Evangelical Fellowship of India, the umbrella organization for all major churches and Christian organisations in India. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s messages at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).
Life Lessons From Thrilling Moments From The Cricket World Cups
WHEN DHONI RAN TO MEET WITH JOGI!
World T20 Final 2007. India versus their arch-rivals Pakistan. In Johannesburg, South Africa. Pakistan needed 13 runs to win off 6 balls with just one wicket in hand in the inaugural T20 World Cup Final. A seesaw game it was. Tension in the air. Spectators at the edge of their seats. Mahendra Singh Dhoni in what was his first international tournament as captain entrusted seamer Joginder Sharma – a bowler he had seen defend totals as low as 2 runs in domestic cricket – to bowl the crucial last over with the dangerous-looking Misbah-ul-haq of Pakistan on strike (despite his star spinner Harbhajan having one over left in his bowling quota). Misbah had hit Harbhajan for three huge sixes in over number 18. Joginder bowled an ultra-wide as the first ball. Captain Dhoni calmly collected the ball and ran all the way to the other side of the pitch to put an arm around Joginder, who had by then walked back to his bowling mark. After giving him a brief pep talk, Dhoni ran back to the usual wicket-keeper’s position. Dhoni told him this: “If we lose this game, I will take the responsibility. So, relax and give your best! You have done it in small grounds when no one was watching you. You can do it when the whole world is watching you!” Misbah was beaten off Joginder’s next ball, “trying to carve the ball away over point,” as commentator-on-air Ravi Shastri put it. He thrashed over the bowler’s head the third ball, which was an innocuous fulltoss, for a huge six to make the equation 6 off 4 balls for Pakistan. Yet, again, Dhoni took the long journey from the wicketkeeper’s customary spot all the way to the fastbowler’s starting point. Another short-session of nerves-calming! Going by the next ball Joginder bowled – a slower ball with the word ‘trap’ written all over it – this may have been Dhoni’s advice: “Don’t try to contain Misbah. Try to get him out!” Sambit Bal’s lines about the last ball of the World T20 Final 2007 is worth quoting: “Then, with only one wicket in hand and fine leg in the circle, Misbah went for that scoop which, not for the first time, ended in tears for the batsman. Sreesanth would have never taken a more important catch in his life. But for Misbah, who has been Pakistan’s surprise star of the tournament, it will take some forgetting.”
The God who made you and me, did something similar to what Dhoni did in that climatic final over. We had goofed up like Joginder. We had sinned and were in danger – the danger of going to eternal hell, the place which God made for the Devil and his angels. God could have chosen to just watch this happen. But he did not. Just as Dhoni ran from the wicket-keeper’s position to the start of the bowling mark of in the T20 World Cup Final last over, God too travelled. He left the comfort of heaven and came all the way to earth, just to save us. Yes, Jesus, God in flesh, came down to seek and save us, sinners, the Bible, God’s Word in human words declares (Luke 19:10).
WHEN DHONI PROMOTED HIMSELF IN THE WORLD CUP FINAL VS SRI LANKA!
It was late evening of April 2, 2011. India had to come up with the best ever chase done in a World Cup Final – overhaul Sri Lanka’s imposing 274 – to win the World Cup 2011, 28 years after the magic day when Kapil Dev and his boys won it in the year 1983. Virender Sehwag, first and Sachin Tendulkar, later, got out rather cheaply. India’s score stood at 31, when Sachin, just one short of his 100th ton then, got out. When the well-set Virat Kohli after a fighting 83-run partnership with “iron-willed” Gautam Gambhir also got out, caught and bowled brilliantly by Tillakaratne Dilshan, India were in real danger. In danger of losing the World Cup Finals. In danger of not becoming the first ever team to win the World Cup at home. That’s when Captain M. S. Dhoni stepped in. He volunteered to bat at Number 5. He could have stayed back and sent into the tension-filled middle, the in-form Yuvraj Singh. But he marched out of the Indian dressing room to bat at Number 5 when India still needed 161 runs to win in the 22nd over (161 from 170 balls, to be precise). The required run rate was almost 6 an over and had to be maintained for 28-plus Overs – that was the huge challenge before Dhoni when he walked in! In his previous seven innings leading up the final, Dhoni had just scored a grand total of 150 runs! Yet, he backed himself. He volunteered to go up the batting order when India was in a crisis. He stuck his neck out saying, “I will do this for India!” He told coach Gary Kirsten that as Lankan ace spinner Muthiah Muralitharan was operating he wanted to go ahead of the inform Yuvraj Singh. As the movie, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, opened, we got a breath-taking, eagle-eye view of the entire Wankhade Stadium in Mumbai with the camera slowly zooming into faces in the stadium abuzz with untold tension. Rohit Vats, writing a review for this movie, hits the rewind-button on those goose-bumps-giving moments no Indian cricket fan will ever forget this memorable way: ‘When India is reeling at 114 for 3 (in a chase of 274) against Sri Lanka in the cricket world cup final of 2011, a man decides to take charge of the situation. It helps that he is also the captain of the team. He silently walks past the crowd, enters the ground and creates history. The cricketer’s image of rotating the bat as if he is wielding the sword is etched in our memory’ (Hindustan Times, April 15, 2017).
For the first 10 overs of his stay in the middle in that treasured final match, Dhoni did not hit a single boundary. He ran like a rabbit between the wickets, converting the singles in twos. Apart from hitting 25 fours and a couple of sixes, Indian batsmen chased down 274 with 99 singles, 24 twos, and even a three. To do this, hectic, hare-like running was required and Dhoni was most ready for that. He was sweating, he was blowing his running nose and he received treatment for his back “as the Mumbai heat took its toll.” Andrew Miller reported, “Dhoni at one stage looked so immobile that a precautionary retirement seemed the only logical response, but after some harsh work from the physio he resumed his stance and responded with another trademark filleting of the extra cover boundary, an area in which he scored six of his eight fours – three of which helped to blunt Murali’s attacking instincts.” Sidharth Monga observed, “Once Gambhir tired, Dhoni took over the responsibility of scoring. In the time that Gambhir moved from 87 to 97, Dhoni went from 29 to 60.” In utter desperation, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara threw the ball to his strike bowler Lasith Malinga hoping that he would take two wickets off two balls or do even better. But Dhoni hit him for two consecutive boundaries through mid-wicket to hasten India’s World Cup win before a roaring crowd in Wankhade Stadium! Dhoni was the calmest soul in Wankhade Stadium, Mumbai, when he hit the Cup-winning six for India with 10 balls to spare. And India was home! The World Cup was India’s! Quite memorably!
HE CHOSE TO SWIM IN THE AMNIOTIC FLUIDS OF MARY…
You and I are in danger. The danger of living a life of hell (life without purpose, meaning and real joy, a life in which you are empty despite having everything) and going to a literal hell (a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth forever, a place which Jesus spoke about 8 times). That’s when Jesus stepped in. Jesus could have stayed back in heaven and sent someone else to save you from going to hell. He did not. In eternity past, there was a meeting held in heaven. In that meeting Jesus stood up. “I will go Father! Just give me a body! I will get into it, become a human, go to the earth and die for the human race. I will march down the Calvary route and open a doorway to save the human race!” (my imagination based on Psalm 40 and Hebrews 10 from the Bible). He came down and became a man. He chose to swim in the amniotic fluids of Mary rather than swim in the praises of angels and cherubs in Heaven. God took on flesh and bone. Yes, He did it for you. Yes, He did if for me. For everyone – he did it. When he was stopped from the Cross-route, he was determined to keep going, the Scripture records (Luke 9:51). He called as ‘Devil’ the one who discouraged him from walking down the road to Golgotha. On the road to the Cross, Jesus endured infinitely more discomfort more than Dhoni ever did in the World Cup Finals of 2011.
The following 12 ‘s’ torment Jesus endured to win the only true salvation offer for you. Here they are:
First, SOLD. Judas sold priceless Jesus for a price that was less than the price of a man 20 to 60 years old, according to the Bible (Leviticus 27:3). We sell Jesus even today when our friends apply peer pressure on us, don’t we?
Second, SWEAT. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweated blood, the Bible records (Lk 22:44). This happens only when a person experiences highest tension. That punishment would have been apt for a pleasure-lover, like you and me. But Jesus took it upon himself.
Third, STRAPPED. Jesus was bound by ropes before High Priest, the Gospel narratives of the Bible tell us (John 18:12). The most-free man on this earth, Jesus, was now bound. Why? Jesus was dying to release a poisoned, bound generation – a generation bound to drugs, alcohol, porn-watching, gossip-mongering, Facebook!
Fourth, SPAT UPON. This happened twice to Jesus, according to the Scriptures (Matthew 26:67; 27:30). Only an irresponsible husband was to be spat upon, the Old Testament, one portion of the Bible, tells us (Deuteronomy 25:9). We were irresponsible when it came to using what God had given us and the punishment went to Jesus.
Fifth, SLAPPED. Jesus was slapped by the High Priest’s servant, the Scriptures note (Matthew 26:67). His sinless mouth was hit hard. The reason – he was dying for a human race that consistently uses its mouth to sin – by lying, by using abusive language, by having oral sex outside of the marriage bond.
Six, SCOURGED. When Jesus was whipped, his back became like a plowed field with strips of flesh hanging loose (See Matthew 27:26 in the Bible). Only the back of fools was to be whipped, according to the Scriptures (Proverbs 19:29). We were foolish to race behind temporary worldly pleasures (see Hebrews 11:25 in the Bible) ignoring the eternal pleasures at the right hand of God, our Creator (see Psa. 16:11 in the Bible) and the punishment for that sin went to Jesus.
Seventh, STRIPPED. Jesus was stripped off the clothes he originally wore and was then clothed in a scarlet robe (Matthew 27:28). Scarlet robes were only worn by royalty those days. So, the Roman soldiers who made Jesus wear it were making fun of Jesus with words of mockery that could have sounded this way: “You claim to be a King, Jesus? Ha, Ha! You don’t look like a king! Now, wear this scarlet robe and you will look more like a king! Come on, let us fall prostrate before this King!” Jesus was dying for a generation that takes pleasure in making fun of the timid and giggles when they suffer in excruciating pain.
Eighth, SPLINTER-PRESSED. The thorns were pressed on the head of Jesus, a Gospel-writer of the Bible notes (Matthw 27:29). It was you and me who had a big proud head. Those thorns should have come upon us, but Jesus, in his great love, took it upon himself.
Ninth, SHAMED. Only kings of the enemies of the Jews were hung on a tree, publicly, the Bible records (Joshua 10:26). But that shameful punishment came to Jesus, the real King of Kings. Crucifixion on a wooden cross beam was worst punishment reserved for the foulest enemies of the state by the Roman Government. It was akin to being urinated upon in public those days (See, Philippians 2:8 in the Bible). You and I must be publicly humiliated for all our secret, unprintable sins. But Jesus took that punishment on our behalf.
Tenth, SPIKED. Nails were thrashed onto Jesus’ two hands and legs, the Bible tells us (Matthew 27:31). Those nails should have gone on our hands for we sinned against Jesus with our hands and legs. I am referring to sins such as cigar-smoking, masturbation while porn-watching, fondling the intimate parts of the person belonging to the opposite gender not our spouse, walking into a filthy movie show, etc. But Jesus took the punishment for all our sins on the Cross. He was our substitute, the Bible declares (Isaiah 53:4,5; Galatians 2:19,20). The nails could not hold Jesus to the Cross for which nail, however strong, could ever hold God onto a Cross for long? Love did. He could have ripped them off and come down when he was challenged to do that and scoffed at for refusing to do it (see Mark 15:30 in the Bible). But Jesus stayed on because he loved you and me.
Eleventh, SEPARATED. God turned his face away from Jesus as all of our sins – past, present and future – were placed upon him for six hours, one Friday, about two thousand years ago. At that time, Jesus lost his close fellowship with his holy Heavenly Father who would not even look upon sin. This was a heart-breaking experience for Jesus and so he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” as the Bible declares (Matthew 27:45-46). He became so utterly lonely so that he would be able to lift the loneliness in your life, the loneliness that comes even when you are rubbing shoulders with plenty of friends in a packed booze party.
Twelfth, SPEARED. This treatment was given to him, minutes after he was dead, the Bible tells us (John 19:34). The final blood drops in his body came out then. Every drop says, ‘I love you!’ Only this blood can cleanse you from you from every sin, the Bible teaches (I John 1:7)! It is impossible for anything you do or the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin, the Bible makes clear (Hebrews 10:4).
WILL YOU PRESS THE NAILS ONTO HIS HANDS HARDER, OR…
How do you respond to this great love of Christ that was so supremely “demonstrated” while he hung on the Cross (to use a phrase from Romans 5:8 from the Bible)? You could, in stone-hearted stubbornness, press the nails onto his hands a bit deeper, by continuing to live in sin. That’s one way to respond. You could press down the thorn crown on his head roughly and crudely, once more, in rebellion, by continuing to flirt with the Devil and the world. That’s one way to respond. You could stamp on his holy blood that was shed for you on the Cross by returning to sin like a pig that returns to her wallowing in the mud, as the Bible points out (Hebrews 10:29; 2 Peter 2:22). That’s one way to respond.
Or will you, repent like one of the dying thieves beside Jesus on the Cross like we read in the Bible (Luke 23:42,43)? And would you believe on him (him, who is alive today, him, who is coming back), like the Roman centurion and those with him who screamed, “This is indeed the Son of God!” as per the Biblical record (Matthew 27:54)? The choice is yours.
WHEN DHONI SPRINTED LIKE USAIN BOLT IN A WORLD CUP GAME….
It was a group game in the World T20 2016 which India had to win to stay in the tournament in the Chinnaswamy stadium Bangalore. And when it came to the last ball, Bangladesh needed two runs to win. Captain Cool Dhoni had clearly told young rookie Hardik Pandya, the bowler, how to bowl: “no bowling a Yorker, but bowl a well-aimed slightly short-pitched express delivery, wide of the off stump.” Pandya followed Dhoni’s orders to the centimeter. Bangladeshi batsman Shuvgata Hom attempted an offside slash, only to miss connecting with the ball. Dhoni, who had already removed one of his gloves (in anticipation the tail-ender may miss connecting the ball), calmly collected it and was off his blocks like a 100 meters sprinter! Usain Bolt usually starts slow, but Dhoni had no such problems! He sprinted towards it and broke the wickets catching the non-striker Mustafizur, well short of the crease. The spectators who had their hearts in their mouth, celebrated India’s one run win over Bangladesh in that World T20 game. India’s semifinals hopes were kept afloat following this nerve-wracking one-run win! Shaun Pollock, Darren Ganga, Nick Knight and Russell Arnold, all former cricketers who were on commentary duty during this particular T20 World Cup, slipped into different roles to create a mock replay of this episode – this last ball runout which resulted in an Indian win was that memorable!
Like Dhoni sprinted towards the stumps, shall we sprint towards God-in-Flesh Jesus to receive salvation for the Bible says, ‘Now is the “acceptable time”, and this very day is the “day of salvation”’(2 Cor. 6:2, Phillips). We tell ourselves, “There’s always time to come to Jesus! There’s always time to get saved!” How foolish such an idea is!
The Bible talks about times when it could be too late for us to come to Jesus and get saved. For instance, we cannot get saved after we have died. There is no chance for salvation after we die – this is the teaching of the Bible (Hebrews 9:27). And sudden death can come to us anytime – can it not? Think of what happened in 2014 to 25-year-old Aussie cricketer Phil Hughes who was struck by a 140 kmph bouncer which struck him at the back of his neck as he took evasive action. He lost consciousness, never to regain it again!
Also, we cannot get saved after we have hardened our hearts beyond a certain limit – a limit that God sets for us, which he alone knows if we have crossed or not. This message jumps out from passages such as Genesis 6 and Romans 1 and from the stories of Pharaoh and King Manasseh in the Bible. So, while the Holy Spirit of God convicts us of our sin, by gently speaking in our heart, we must repent and turn to Christ. If we keep silencing his soft voice, the Holy Spirit of God may never speak to us ever again and we may never be saved eventually!
At this juncture I recall another event from the semifinal of the ODI World Cup of 2015 between India and Australia. After Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane (who had smashed 79 runs off 60 balls in India’s earlier game versus South Africa to lift India to a surprise, easy, win) stitched a ‘’fight-back” partnership with the goal of overhauling Australia’s king-size knock-out game first innings total of 328 this event which Carly Adno writes about happened: “Dhoni put on a 70-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane, before the sharp ears of Steve Smith intervened. Smith was the only one who heard a nick off Rahane’s bat when a Mitchell Starc delivery caught the faintest of edges on its way to Brad Haddin.” A umpire review was taken by Australian Captian Michael Clarke following this and Rahane walked back to the pavilion. India’s last recognized batting pair’s partnership was broken and so where India’s hopes of beating Australia in that semifinal.
Just like Steve Smith’s alert ears caught the nick, amidst a noisy crowd in Sydney Cricket Crowd that day, would you listen to the soft, faint voice of the Holy Spirit of God in your soul, telling you to repent now, and put your faith in Christ for your salvation, as you read this piece? Don’t turn off that tender voice! Obey it!
We must not forget that it becomes too late to get saved after Jesus appears in mid-air to judge us, all of a sudden. When Jesus comes back the second time, he is not coming back to offer salvation – but to execute judgment, the Bible teaches (Revelation 1:7). During that final judgment time, there is no way anyone can get saved. The message you are currently reading will be preached to you then. No altar call to come forward and accept Christ would be given then.
Why should we still scratch around with sin even after knowing very well that Jesus came to save us from sin? Sin makes us sad. It does so after giving us an initial elation. Sin will ultimately take us to hell, the Bible declares (Revelation 21:8). Why not join Jesus – the Jesus who died for us, sinners, on the Cross and waits to embrace us with arms open wide? Why not do it this very second, lest it becomes too late.
By praying this prayer you can be saved and receive true joy and real peace which only Jesus can give:
Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. Please forgive my sins. You died for me on the Cross. Cleanse me with your blood. Come into my heart and life. From this day onwards, I will turn away from sin and live for you, who rose from the dead. I believe you are the only way to heaven and will return one day to judge all the earth, as the Bible proclaims. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for cleansing me. In your name I pray. So be it.
Once you have prayed this prayer, get busy with the following regularly because you love Jesus: 1. Studying the Bible (ESV Bible App can be downloaded onto your smart phone). 2. Talking to Jesus in prayer. 3. Joining a Bible-believing church/fellowship 4. Tell others about Jesus, through your life and lip.
(This was written by Duke Jeyaraj, an avid cricket enthusiast who lives in Hyderabad, India, whose letters have been published in newspapers like The Hindu. Duke, at one point in time, won an elocution contest as a visiting student in the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. If you have a question about what you just read or want to know more about Jesus, shoot a mail to Duke at email@example.com. You can read more such writings of Duke at www.PurposeSpot.blogspot.com. You can watch Duke share similar messages at http://www.YouTube.com/VisitDuke).
A virus crept our neighborhood, causing untold dread. The Savior of the World, slept soundly as the only baby without original sin, in a manger in the neighborhood of Bethlehem, two thousand years ago, driving out fear and bringing in cheer and serenity [The assuring words ‘fear not’ is repeated four times (to, Zechariah, to Mary, to Joseph and the Shepherds) in the Christmas narratives of the Bible – if you care to carefully notice].
The China virus has greatly affected our world’s economy. The Bethlehem babe’s birth can greatly affect your destiny. In what way? Let’s see:
Jesus brings us PEACE that is not circumstances-dependent. That’s why Jesus was given this title in a Christmas-themed prophecy – the title of ‘Prince of Peace’. He is the big boss over peace, in other words. Our peace often goes for a toss when our life’s circumstances aren’t favorable. But when you start to know Christ the big boss of peace (the prince of peace), you will have peace no matter how crazy the situations in your life gets. Yes, we can have serenity even when there is a storm, if Jesus is our life-boat!
Jesus brings us JOY that is contagious. He began that wow work, even before he landed on the earth as a babe! Jesus was is in mom’s tummy; John the Baptist was in his mom’s tummy; And as both these tummies come close, that’s when John who was still in his mother’s tummy jumped for joy! You see, when you choose to stay in Jesus’ presence a joy unspeakable, full of glory, will be yours! The happiness that we got when we watched Hardik Pandya smack Daniel Sams into the Sydney Cricket Ground stands in the fourth ball off the final over to seal the 2020 T20 Series versus Australia may ebb away. But not the joy that Jesus offers!
Jesus can bring us MIRACLES and HEALING according to His Will which works all things always for our good. The phrase, “For Nothing is impossible with God!” comes straight out of the Christmas Story in the Bible – you perhaps know that! Jesus gave miraculously gave back, the life-breath to my daughter who had ‘no heart beat’ when she was in my wife’s womb, according to medical reports! She was dedicated as a baby in this church in 2008!
Jesus offers SALVATION which in turn gives our lives real meaning and purpose. When the Christmas Story Senior Simeon picked up the baby Jesus, he mouthed this: “My eyes have seen the salvation of the Lord!” We need salvation, because each one of us are sinners who are enduring a living hell and are headed for a literal hell. And sin, whether you like it or not, ultimately creates a vacuum in our hearts, and eventually making our lives meaningless and purposeless. Jesus, the eternal God, took on a human body of flesh and bone while remaining God, during the first Christmas. He kept himself from any sin, the only one to do so in this planet. When Jesus died on the Cross, he became, the perfect, salvation-bringing sacrifice for sin.. Max Lucado put it well: “Jesus went from Heaven’s Crown, to Bethlehem’s Cradle, to Jerusalem’s Cross”. The Resurrected and Soon-Returning Jesus calls us to repent from sin and put our trust in Him, ‘lest we perish’ (Luke 13:1-5). When we do that, we experience salvation and an ‘inexpressible and glorious joy’ (1 Peter 1:8). As we know Jesus, our life becomes meaningful and purposeful, as knowing Him and making Him known is what we were created for, originally! Mark Batterson explained this well: ‘The Almighty God became Immanuel, “God with us,” so we can spend eternity with him.’
Deigo Maradona scored, what is being called ‘the Goal of the Century’, versus England in the World Cup 1986 Quarter Finals, dancing around English defenders, all by himself, having started his dream run from his team’s half. His Argentine teammate, Jorge Valdano, running alongside Maradona as a reinforcement was reduced to a mere spectator. Starting from ‘his half’ – heaven – Jesus took on human flesh only to die on the Cross (located at our half), walking up Golgotha Hill. Jesus completed the goal of the Trinity from eternity: the offering of salvation to every person who would come to him (who was slain on the Cross before the World’s foundation) in faith, with an attitude of repentance (Rev. 13:8). As Valdano and other Argentine team-mates hugged Maradona in celebration having done practically nothing to contribute to the scoring of the goal of the century, we too, having contributed nothing for our salvation through our self-efforts or menstrual-cloth like unworthy righteousness (Isa 64:6), gratefully love and celebrate Jesus, who finished the goal of the Godhead from eternity concerning the offer of salvation to humans by dying on the Cross (Eph 2:8-10; Gal. 2:20).
‘And he shall be their peace’ – so says a Christmas Prophecy passage about Jesus (Micah 5:5). While others attempted to point out different paths to peace, but Jesus himself is our peace! While others attempted to show the way to salvation, Jesus himself is our salvation! While others attempted to point to a way, Jesus himself is THE way! Jesus invites us to come to Him, the person, not to a philosophy! There is a big difference between Jesus and others! Jesus is unique!
Jesus calls us for a DECISION. Christmas Story Senior Simeon told Jesus’ mother Mary this: ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many…’ We have a choice now. To rise with Jesus. To rise to a life of peace, joy and deliverance from sin. Or, if we reject Jesus, the Only Way, we further fall into despondency, purposelessness and ultimately will land in hell. What will you choose today? Like the Wise Men of the Christmas Narrative did, let us surrender ourselves to Jesus, without any procrastination. Then our life route will change, like it changed for those wise men!
(This article was written as a tract for New Life Assembly of God Church, Kompally, by Duke Jeyaraj. The church used the edited version of this tract to give out to new comers who visited its campus on 19-20 Dec 2020 during their Christmas Drive Through Program. If you need to know more about Jesus, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via WhatsApp at 91-8886040605. Duke, the author of this article, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org and at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).
K. L. Rahul, one of the stars of the recently concluded IPL has an explosive combination of “speed” and “style”. He bats in a classy style yet he scores so briskly. Arjen Robben’s 2014 World Cup Goal versus Spain for the Netherlands wedded two rare qualities that hardly come together: speed and skill (watch it on Youtube). But no one has the out-of-the-world unique combination of diametrically opposite characters which Jesus alone has. I call Jesus the “The Combination Champion”!
The Christmas season provides us with yet another occasion to proclaim, defend the uniqueness of Christ and present him as the Ultimate Combination Champion.
Jesus Is PURE as much as He is POWERFUL
While there are so-called god-men – many of who are hit by sex scandals – in our planet who claim to do miracles, only Jesus has this unique combination: he is pure as well as powerful.
We live in an impure world. We hear of scandals every day. The Bible says every one of us have sinned. In the Old Testament the wise King Solomon his prayer this way: “When they sin against you…” (I Kings 8:46). Notice he did not say, “If they sin against you…” He takes it for granted that the human race – every one – sins. Apostle Paul declares in the New Testament, “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23).
Only God-in-flesh Jesus is sinless while the rest of the human-race are sinners. The Christmas angel called Jesus, “the holy one” (Luke 1:35). John wrote this about Jesus: “There is no sin in him, and sin is not part of his program” (I John 3:5 MSG).
Jesus has done miracles for me. As a 20-year old student of B. Tech. Agricultural Engineering of Allahabad Agricultural Institute, I was admitted in a hospital for wheezing (in 1996). I prayed, “Jesus heal me of wheezing!” I have not had another wheezing attack till now (2020). Jesus healed me! My daughter was declared dead when she was in her mother’s womb after a medical scan. The doctor said that her dead cells will be evicted from wife’s body through a natural process. But we knelt down and prayed to the Lord Jesus. He did a miracle. He gave her life back. The next time we went for a scan, the scan report said that my daughter’s heart-beat was normal. Today, she is a normal 13-year old who give us all so much alloyed joy.
Even the miracles of Jesus have a stamp of uniqueness. While he multiplied bread for the hungry who came to hear him preach, he did not do the same when he was hungry after fasting for 40 straight days in the wilderness. His pure character of unselfishness was reflected in his power demonstration! Yes, no one has had this combination of “purity” and “power” like Jesus! No one has this combination of “flawlessness” in character as well as the “prowess” in miracle-working power like Jesus has!
Jesus is DIVINE, yet MINE
Surely there is a God! One thousand monkeys cannot produce a book if they randomly and furiously typed on one different computers. But a Shashi Tharoor or a Barack Obama could come-up with page-turning books with ease if you just gave them a mere week to write it! What is the lesson here? It is this: greater the design, the greater the designer! The breath-taking mountains, the beautiful flowers, the vivid valleys – all these point to the ultimate master designer. And that Master Designer is God.
Jesus is the only who with this rare, rocking combination: humanity and divinity. He is the only who is 100% human even as he is 100% God.
That fact that Jesus became thirsty, angry, excited – all pointed to the fact that he was human (as he was God). When I observe from my reading of the Gospel narratives that Jesus enjoyed his sleep amidst the splashing waves, it reminds me that Jesus was human (as he was God). The fact that Jesus knew what was in a human (John 2:24-25), underlines his identity as God who by definition knows everything. When Jesus mouthed, “Before Abraham (who lived long before Jesus’ incarnation) was, I am”, he was claiming to be God, for God by definition has Eternal existence! When the resurrected Jesus accepted Thomas’ worship, he was claiming to be God who alone is worthy of our worship!
The details the Bible provides about Jesus’ birth tells us he has this out-of-the-world combination of divinity and humanity. Yes, Jesus is both divine and mine (part of my human tribe!). Paul wrote thus: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). Every human is born of a woman – even Jesus was. Every human is conceived post a sexual relationship between a man and a woman. But Jesus was not. Matthew narrates this about Jesus’ birth: “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” (Mathew 1:18). So, Jesus was as much God as he was Human!
Jesus travelled the last mile to show he was human when he chose to die on the Cross. Yet when he bowed his head and died (John 19:30) he showed he was God (as he got to choose the exact second he would die – something no human could).
As members of the human race, we look for a true friend. The Airtel Advertisement of yesteryears went this way: “Har ek friend, zaroori hota hai (every friend is important – Hindi)… chat room friend….koi classroom friend….shopping mall wala friend….shopping friend….koi exam hall wala friend….copying friend….movie buddy…groovy buddy…hi buddy…bye buddy….joke buddy…poke buddy…every body…sab body…ovvaru friendum theva machan (every kind of friend is needed, friend – Tamil).” To the friend-seeking generation Jesus who is 100% divine yet 100% human is the perfect friend: a friend who sticks closer than a brother (as the book of Proverbs presents Jesus as).
Jesus LOVED AND LASHED-OUT!
We live in a world without love. One tragic day, Devan Kalathat (an Indian living in the USA), shot his 34-year-old wife, their son, Akhil Dev, 11 years, daughter (just 4 years of age), his wife’s brother and his wife, and their 11 month baby girl. He did when they were all in the kitchen. The police later found served food on the dining table. Then Devan walked up the stairs of his duplex house and shot himself dead. He was so empty that he emptied bullets onto others and onto himself. ‘Silk’ Smitha, who was known in Kollywood and Tollywood for her erotic dance performances in movies, had a lot of fans. But the number of fans did not stop her from hanging herself from a fan! The emptiness of our loveless human existence is almost palpable.
The words and actions of Jesus comes as a healing-balm to our loveless world. He touched lepers during his earthly ministry, lepers who are shunted out of the residences they lived in, lepers who now lived in ear-marked colonies outside the city limits. When others would shout, ‘unclean, unclean’, at the sight of lepers, and run away, Jesus buried lepers onto his bosom in love! He demonstrated his love for us in this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, Paul’s words).
Yet the same Jesus also lashed-out. He preached: “Unless you repent, you too will perish” (Luke 13:1-5). Perish is the Bible-word for eternal hell – a place of ever on-going torment. “Stop sinning so that something worse doesn’t happen to you” – so said Jesus to a paralytic, whom he healed (John 5:14, GWT). When he spoke to a woman who was caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Neither do I throw stones at you (words of love), but leave your live of sin (words of lashing out).”
This Christmas will you use every opportunity you get to talk about Jesus, the Ultimate combination champion? For the rest of your life, will you commit to talking about Jesus’ uniqueness by talking about divergently opposite qualities he brought together like no one else?
(This article was published by Aim Magazine – Dec 2020 issue. Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. The author of this article Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org and http://www.dukewords.com).
Duke Jeyaraj’s poem on the climax of the India-Australia World Cup Quarter Final in Ahmedabad, 24 March 2011 in which Suresh Raina was a hero along with Yuvraj Singh
When Captain Dhoni was out, India’s semi-final entering hopes was staring down the mat,
India still needed 74 runs to get off 75 balls, when the steel-nerved Suresh Raina walked out to bat,
Chewing their nails, at the edge of their seats, the Indian spectators, with unbearable tension sat,
‘Would Raina prove to be a better choice than the left-out-from-the-XI Pathan?’ – this was the topic of every cricket chat,
As Yuvraj and Raina batted sensibly rotating the strike, hitting the odd boundary, the asking rate never got unmanagably fat,
When Raina hoisted the bleeding Bret Lee for an over-the-head six, from Yuvraj, he got a big hug and an approving pat,
As Yuvraj cover-drove Lee and sank on his knees to celebrate, every Indian joined him, from a Jain to a Jat,
At that point in time, first innings centurion Ricky Ponting, the two-time World Cup winning Aussie captain, wished he could hide in a hole like a rat!
Speaking to a commentator after the game, Raina, released from his bag, the proverbial ‘cat’,
“It was because of God’s grace,” he could do what he did, he said, in humility, adjusting his India hat,
Did you know that God’s grace was supremely shown, when upon sinless Jesus’ face, evil men spat?
He shed his blood to wash away your sin when he hung on that Cross – my friend have you ever heard that? When you repent from sin, and join Jesus, you’ll discover your life become full of meaning and never becomes flat!
(This poem of Duke Jeyaraj was published in Duke Jeyaraj’s 2012 book, The Goodnews for the Google Generation. This book is currently out of print. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s message videos at http://www.Youtube.com/VisitDuke).
Duke Jeyaraj writes about Dhoni’s dismissal in the India-New Zealand World Cup Semifinal when India needed 25 off 10 and brings out a spiritual lesson from it!
“Banged in short and wide outside off, Dhoni leaps off his feet, goes airborne and scythes a six over backward point. Bam. The hands are still fast. Can the great finisher do it once again?” That was the commentary typed by the ESPN Cricinfo team for ball number 49.1 bowled by Lockie Ferguson in the World Cup Semifinal 2019 on 10 July 2019 at Manchester, England. When M. S. Dhoni sent the first ball of the 49th Over over the off-side field for a six, the kite of Indian hopes soared. Some of us got goosebumps! We got off our sofas and did fist pumps! The next ball was a dot ball. The third ball, as Dhoni tried to steal a couple by awkwardly directing a rising ball to the legside, he was caught inches short by a Martin Guptill’s direct hit! As the replays – the most heart-stopping replays in modern live Cricket broadcast history – confirmed India’s worst fears that Dhoni was run-out, tears were running down from the die-hard cricket fan’s cheeks. Rohit Sharma, who had carried India to the semifinal stage with five fabulous centuries in the group state, was also on the verge of tears. Dhoni waked back after scoring 50 off 72 balls (his second straight fifty in the World Cup Semifinal stage).
What if, Dhoni had not got run out at that stage? India would have needed 23 runs off 9 balls. The Dhoni we have known would have hit a six off one of next two balls. With 1 ball to go, in that over, the equation then would have been this: 17 off 7. Dhoni, predictably, would have taken a single, to retain strike for the last over. That would have meant, that India would have needed 16 runs off the last over of the World Cup Semifinals 2019 to make it to the Finals with the World’s best finisher on strike! In Chennai Super Kings must-win game versus Kings XI Punjab, Dhoni was batting in the final over of the match in IPL of 2010 with the equation being exactly the same: 16 off 6! And Dhoni finished that match with two balls to spare! The over bowled by Irfan Pathan went this way: 4, 2, 6, 6. He could have possibly done the same, in the World Cup Semifinals 2019, too! Who knows? What a finish, it would have been!
Are you ‘inches short’ of your salvation? Are you ‘inches short’ of the Kingdom of God? There was a religion scholar was inches short of the Kingdom of God – Jesus pointed out in the Gospels (Mark 12:34). He heard the narration of what was the greatest commandment from the mouth of Jesus himself! And Jesus said that he was not far from the Kingdom of God! He was inches close to the Kingdom, but not in the Kingdom! Why? Even following the greatest command will not give you salvation or give you entry into the Kingdom of God! Placing your trust in Jesus with a repentant heart will give you salvation, – this is what the Bible teaches (Luke 13:1-5; Acts 16:31). And having been saved, out of gratitude we follow the moral laws of God, the summary of which is to love God and love people as New Testament believers!
Are you religious? Your religious faith cannot save you! Religion can point to the fact that we need need salvation! But Religion itself cannot save us! Apostle Paul pointed this out in his speech in Athens (Acts 17:22, The Bible). He also pointed that people of all religions need to repent and come to Jesus, if they want to escape hell punishment on the final day of judgment in the same speech he gave in Athens, inspired by the Holy Spirit (Acts 17:30-31, The Bible). You are near salvation, when you are religious! Religious is an expression of your desperateness for God and Salvation! But religion itself cannot save you! You need a relationship with Jesus (John 17:3; Gen. 4:1)! Then you can have eternal life! Then you can enter God’s Kingdom! Then you can be saved! So come to Jesus, now!
When he played Dhoni in Dhoni’s bio pic, I thought he was more real than the real Dhoni! His sudden going so sad! He sat in the Train Station in that movie in a key scene and gave us this message: ‘when life feels meaningless you need to be bold and make some drastic changes!’ Yup, there are times when life feels meaningless! There are times when life feels purposeless! What do you do then? Commit suicide? No. You come to the only one who gives meaning to it. You come to Jesus who said, ‘I have come to give you life – life to the full!’ (John 10:10). You surrender your life to the One who died on the Cross to deliver you from your ‘empty way of life’ (I Peter 1:18-19). You come to Jesus who puts ‘purpose in every step’ (I Cor. 9:26 NLT)! – Duke Jeyaraj
Duke Jeyaraj on the last over between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kings XI Punjab in Dharamshala, 18 April 2010, easily the most exciting game in IPL-111, and perhaps one of the most iconic final overs ever in IPL History as one hits the rewind button on 12 years of IPL (as on April 2020).
They were just an over away from possible elimination – despite having quality players to flaunt,
16 runs in the last over – that’s what Chennai Super Kings needed stay in the hunt,
Irfan Pathan ran into bowl with determination, Dhoni’s efforts to get those runs, to blunt,
The onlookers couldn’t move – be it a person young or old, or be it an uncle or an aunt,
After Dhoni crashed the first ball for four – 12 required off 5 balls was the new count,
When the next ball he miscued for a brace, Chennai’s semi-final chances none could totally discount,
The next two balls Dhoni smacked over the fence – Irfan Pathan’s ego to bruise and affront!
The super cool Skipper then celebrated with a rare, never-seen-before upper cut stunt!
It was as if he knew that Chennai would go on to win the IPL 3, up-front!
“Dhoni scores 28 out of 29 runs required in the last 2 overs” – that’s what the papers reported in big font!
What Dhoni did atop that stadium in 5000-feet high Dharamshala’s mount,
Reminded me of Jesus who willingly took cuts on his body atop mount Golgotha, to open a fount,
A fount filled with sinless, precious blood that would take away sin of all, who into it, would in repentance and faith, even today, dismount!
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this poem, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. WhatsApp Duke at +91-8886040605).
New York. Big City. The City of Sky Scrappers. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Centres it’s pride and joy. Over 100 storeys high. 414 metres tall. September 11, 2001, said the calendar. Two aircraft ram into these strapping structures. The buildings sway like a boat in a rough sea. They come down crumbling. For thousands it was all over. In a flash it all happens.
Rewind two thousand years. The town – Jerusalem. In the country of Israel. Another tower crashes. 18 people get killed as a result. The tower had a name – the tower of Siloam. Some escape by the skin of their teeth. Narrowly. There was no newspapers then. No Times of India. No Hindustan Times . By word of mouth the news reaches this man. Who? Jesus. He told the crowd around him something which made their ears tingle: “Those 18 in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse sinners than all other Jerusalemites? No not at all. Unless you repent, you too will die!” (Luke 13: 3-5, MSG). The NASB renders the same set of verses thus: but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:5). “Perish” is the Bible word for punishment in hell (Rev. 21:7-8). But God does not want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Have you repented? Have you repented from sin? If not do so now! Come to Jesus who died for you on the Cross!