Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Schindlers List- Lift your head, Square your Shoulders



One of the most powerful movie scenes in Hollywood history comes from Schindler’s List, the 1993 Academy Award-winning film about the Holocaust that tells the story of Oskar Schindler, an entrepreneur-turned-hero who saved 1,200 Jews from the Nazis by employing them in his factory. At the end of the war, the employees presented Schindler with a ring forged out of the gold from a worker’s teeth, with the following inscription from the Talmud: “He who saves one life, saves an entire world.”

This is an emotional moment. Yet, instead of feeling satisfied with his heroic role in saving lives, Schindler bemoaned the fact that he could have saved even more Jews. He wished he would have sold his car, his watch, anything in order to buy a life. At that powerful moment, Schindler discovered the value of one human being, and he would have paid anything to save one.

In those years, millions of Jews died in the Nazi death camps like Auschwitz, but Schindler's Jews miraculously survived.

To more than 1200 Jews Oscar Schindler was all that stood between them and death at the hands of the Nazis. A man full of flaws like the rest of us - the unlikeliest of all role models who started by earning millions as a war profiteer and ended by spending his last pfennig and risking his life to save his Jews. An ordinary man who even in the worst of circumstances did extraordinary things, matched by no one. He remained true to his Jews, the workers he referred to as my children. In the shadow of Auschwitz he kept the SS out and everyone alive. 

The story of Schindler and Stern, the central figures in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List, became known to the world at large primarily through Thomas Keneally's 1982 novel Schindler's Ark. It is one of the greatest movies that I watched.


Our world since then has become a large, impersonal, busy institution. 

Charles R. Swindoll says : We are alienated from each other. Although crowded, we are lonely. Pushed together but uninvolved. No longer do most neighbors visit across the backyard fence. The well-manicured front lawn is the modern moat that keeps barbarians at bay. Hoarding and flaunting have replaced sharing and caring. It's like we are occupying common space but have no common interests, as if we're on an elevator with rules such as: "No talking, smiling, or eye contact allowed without written consent of the management."

Painful though it may be for us to admit, we're losing touch with one another. The motivation to help, to encourage, yes, to serve our fellow human beings is waning. People have even observed crimes in progress but refused to help so as not to be involved! Our foundational values are getting lost in these confusing days. And yet, it is these things that form the essentials of a happy and fulfilled life.

A man of God recently shared, “God doesn’t punish, sin punishes because Jesus has taken all of our punishment on himself.” Sin has consequences and God allows us to walk through those consequences on earth. He also allows us to go through pain, suffering, persecution and trials, but that does not diminish his love for each of us! He hurts when we hurt, even when we have brought it on ourselves. Because of Jesus, God already sees us as saints seated with Him, that is not something that happens just in heaven. He already sees us in that way.

Hear this: you are not who others say you are. Why should they label you? Determine who you are before God. Let Him determine the level of your success. Why should others be allowed to live at their highest potential, but not you? You are more than your past, more than your education or CV, more than the colour of your skin, more than your bank account, and more than your circumstances. Tell those who talk down to you and devalue you, 'You're confusing me with somebody else. God says I am a prince. And if I'm a prince, then I have the right to be treated like one!' You ask, 'But is that true?' Yes, the Bible says that when you walk with God, you are part of a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). You are an overcomer (1 John 2:13-14). You are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13-14).

In his popular book I Am Third, former professional football player Gale Sayers explains the book’s title as part of his motto for life which is: “The Lord is first, my friends are second, I am third.” With this attitude, no one would sell out another person for their own gain. Imagine the kind of world we could build if everyone would put God and others before themselves instead of the opposite! This week, let’s make Gale’s motto our motto.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are you Willing



We forget that back then there was no electricity, no internet, no police, no hospitals, and the ruling governments weren’t all that interested in things like free speech or trial by jury. The Old Testament law was a harsh and rigid guideline because the Israelites lived in a harsh and brutal world. God knew that telling the early Israelites to “turn the other cheek” would eventually lead to their destruction, so he took measures to protect them until the world was ready to receive the Gospel of Grace through his Son.

Throughout Israel's history, God set the stage for battles to be won, miracles to take place, and people to exercise faith. The stage was always set so that man could not take credit for what God did.

We Christians are not to be conformed to this world in the way we think.  The world by its advertisements, its conversation, and its philosophy is engaged in a gigantic brainwashing.  Not always consciously but sometimes unconsciously, the Christian is beset by secular and worldly propaganda, calling us to live for ourselves and to put things and selfish pleasure ahead of God. 

     However, above the din we can hear the voice of Scriptures "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2)

Now let me ask you something. Do you feel like you are missing out on something in life? Do you feel discontent or disappointed with your circumstances? We often try to find contentment by making surface changes in our lives—switching jobs, moving to a new city, beginning a new relationship—but nothing seems to work. We fail because we try to apply human solutions to a spiritual problem. 

I think I have an answer.

There can be no triumph unless there is a trial. There can be no testimony unless there is a test. There can be no conquest unless there is a conflict. Many people want to be used mightily by God, yet they refuse to pay the cost. Are you willing to go through dark times so that God’s Kingdom may grow?

The burden that you are carrying can be a blessing if you trust in God. He can turn your burden into victory. He can turn your trials into triumph. We can rest easy at night, knowing that our Father holds our tomorrow in His hands.

God wants to give you a great victory, but first you must put your trust in Him. When we try to face the battle on our own, we are likely to fail. But with God at the heart of our battle plan, we can succeed. Only when our trust is in God will we find peace and rest during troubled times.

How can you tell whether or not you have the true gospel? Paul gives you three tests.

First, the source of the gospel. Where did it come from? God gave it. It is direct and divine revelation. The gospel is authenticated by its source.

Secondly, by its salvation. Any gospel that is not the gospel of grace is not the true gospel. You can’t beg it. You can’t buy it. You can’t borrow it. You can’t steal it. You can’t earn it. It was bought by Christ on the cross. It is the supernatural work of God.

The third test is its subject. It is the grace of Christ. Jesus is the subject. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is all about Jesus.

Time yourself the next time you read the Bible and pray.  Compare it to the amount of time you spend watching television or surfing the Internet.  Is God getting His share of your time and attention?  Is the world shaping your mind---or is CHRIST?

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Monday, January 27, 2014

Difficulties in life are Unavoidable




Perhaps your childhood was less than ideal. Perhaps you had an alcoholic father, an absent father, an abusive mother, or an aloof mother. Perhaps you lived in poverty, grew up in an orphanage, a foster home, or with parents who felt you were a bother instead of a blessing. Even if you had a wonderful childhood, I bet you know someone who didn’t.

Let me assure you of this, no matter what your childhood memories hold, God can and will use every bit of it for His purposes and for His glory…if we let Him. It doesn’t matter how you started; what matters is how you finish.

Paul said, “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul had to put his past behind him to accomplish what God had called him to do in the present.

Likewise, when we put our painful pasts behind us and obey what God is calling us to do in the present. we will experience a fruitful, fulfilling, fascinating adulthood. He can take those miseries of the past and turn them into ministries in the present. He can take our messes in life and turn them into messages of hope. God took a frightened orphan girl and used her to accomplish a great mission. He did it for Queen Esther. He wants to do it for you.

Difficulties in life are unavoidable. So we need a daily dose of God’s grace if we are to walk through trials with confidence that there is great reward on the other side. If we rely on our own strength, however, obstacles will appear insurmountable, leaving us discouraged and ready to give up.

Sadly, many people get their happiness only from outward circumstances.  As long as their lives are untroubled, they feel happy.  But when illness strikes, or a relationship breaks down, or any of a thousand other unexpected troubles engulf them, then happiness flees.

Running from God will never alleviate our problems - or quell our guilt, or quiet our consciences. Running from God will never cure our restlessness and discontent—it will only make our situations worse. Only running toward God will bring us healing, restoration, joy and peace.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dukkipati Nageswara Rao- one of the leading Freedom Fighters from Andhra Pradesh



                                              (Pic: Dukkipati Nageswara Rao)

I remember my Late Maternal Grandfather who fought for the freedom of the country. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of one and all. His village had no electricity, water was scarce, and a train, which passed by the village once a day, was the only connection to the rest of the world. Calling British imperialist rule 'a form of slavery', My Grandfather Dukkipati Nageswara Rao involved himself in the Indian Freedom Movement to end British rule of India.  He was a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence. He belonged to that select breed of freedom fighters who walked the Gandhian path and contributed magnificently to making the freedom movement a truly mass movement in the country. He was barely twenty when he heeded Gandhiji's call for non-cooperation against the British and took it to the villages. He met Mahatma Gandhi in his home town near Gudivada during the Independence movement. It was a life-changing moment for him, who became fascinated with Gandhian philosophy after meeting the Mahatma.

                                (Pic: Mahatma Gandhi before attending a meeting)

THE HISTORY OF FREEDOM STRUGGLE OF INDIA

•           The History of Freedom Struggle of Krishna District in Andhra Pradesh and
•           The History of Freedom Fighters in Krishna District Dukkipati Nageswara Rao

Freedom Fighter and Independence Movement Activist from Krishna District is Dukkipati Nageswara Rao S/o Dukkipati Subbiah. He was a resident formerly of  Payyeru Village, in Gudivada Taluk. He was actively involved in Law breaking (Sasanollangana) and non-cooperation movements. On 23rd January, 1932 he was arrested at Gudivada and was sent to the sub jail and was released after spending a considerable amount of time. The very next day after having been released, he was arrested again. After his brief meeting with the pro-independence activists which was concerned about the Quit India movement. Immediately, the very next morning he was found distributing Congress bulletins in the entire town and was arrested. He was beaten up in the jail till he became unconscious and again he participated in Vyasti Satyagraham. He was charged Rs 200/- fine and four months severe punishment. From 18th March 1941 he was sentenced to severe punishment in the Allipuram jail. (1)

Chosen as a delegate to a meeting of the Indian National Congress, which the British declared illegal, he was arrested and sent to jail for four months. My grandfather’s stint in jail exposed him to even more active nationalism. Along with his Congress membership he was determined to be very active in State. In 1932, Gandhi called for a major nationwide Satyagraha against foreign goods. There were cries of ‘Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai’. As they began to move around picketing shops selling foreign goods, they were arrested, taken to prison, and charged with 4 and half months of rigorous imprisonment.  He set a personal example for his people in the years he spent in prison. He was never arrogant. He worked to mend the tears in Indian society and with his character managed to prevent outbursts of racial hatred. The great freedom fighter Late N.G.Ranga was his mentor and his political guru.


Dukkipati Nageswara Rao participated in all the Gandhian non-violent mass struggles in the three decades before Independence and spent a good part of his life in various jails. He was an indefatigable political worker and a skilful organizer. All set and done he refused the couple of acres along with a Tamra Patra saying this is not what we fought for. We fought for the Independence for our country and nothing else matters. This is what we stood for and we fought for it. And there lies the irony; as a culture, we celebrate a man’s convictions that were used to change our culture in the past, while simultaneously rejecting those values as a part of shaping our culture for the future.

There is meaning and purpose to every life. There is someone above and outside of our existence who stands over it as authority.

My Late Father who was a topper in both Agra University and the University of Liverpool in the fifties completing his PhD in England in record time.

During the course of his Ph. D work he discovered new breeding grounds of edible bivalves in U.K and was very much appreciated. Simultaneously, he also worked on parasitic copepods of bivalves and contributed a series of papers on the subject in reputed foreign journals.  As staunch Nationalist, that he was, he returned to India ignoring the opportunities he had in the west unlike many at that period and joined as a Scientist. Born in a rich family of Kammas, Late Dr Kosaraju Reddiah was a down-to-earth person and took the earliest opportunity to drop the suffix indicating his caste.

 My Late Father who was a topper in both Agra University and the University of Liverpool in the fifties completing his PhD in England in record time.

During the course of his Ph. D work he discovered new breeding grounds of edible bivalves in U.K and was very much appreciated. Simultaneously, he also worked on parasitic copepods of bivalves and contributed a series of papers on the subject in reputed foreign journals.  As staunch Nationalist, that he was, he returned to India ignoring the opportunities he had in the west unlike many at that period and joined as a Scientist. Born in a rich family of Kammas, Late Dr Kosaraju Reddiah was a down-to-earth person and took the earliest opportunity to drop the suffix indicating his caste.

He came back, with a dream of serving India. He joined the Baba Atomic Research Centre in Trombay, Annamalai University, and then later on qualified in the Union Public Service Commission and joined the Government of India as a Scientist. He described the importance of having dreams and how anyone can still learn a lot by reaching for those dreams, even if they don’t always succeed. He shared the values, learned through experience, which he hoped to pass on to others: integrity, honesty, character, hard work, laughter and gratitude.

Reference:

(1) The History of Freedom Fighters in Krishna District ,Krishna Zilla Swathantra Samarayodula Sangam, (Page 106). Swathantra Samaraydula Smaraka Bhavanamu,Vijayawada – 5200024 | Category: Indian independence activists Category: Telugu people


Warm Regards,

Raj Kosaraju


Friday, January 24, 2014

Mahatma Gandhi admired Jesus and His teachings but did not follow "Christianity"



As Gandhi famously said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” See, that’s a problem. And it’s not that I expect Christians to be perfect. Far from it. But if we’re ever going to be justified in claiming Jesus as the model for our lives, it might help first if there was more of a resemblance.

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. A Hindu, Gandhi nevertheless admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Gandhi he asked him, "Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?" Gandhi replied, "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Apparently Gandhi's rejection of Christianity grew out of an incident that happened when he was a young man practising law in South Africa. He had become attracted to the Christian faith, had studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was seriously exploring becoming a Christian. And so he decided to attend a church service. As he came up the steps of the large church where he intended to go, a white South African elder of the church barred his way at the door. "Where do you think you're going, kaffir?" the man asked Gandhi in a belligerent tone of voice. Gandhi replied, "I'd like to attend worship here." The church elder snarled at him, "There's no room for kaffirs in this church. Get out of here or I'll have my assistants throw you down the steps." From that moment, Gandhi said, he decided to adopt what good he found in Christianity, but would never again consider becoming a Christian if it meant being part of the church. How we treat those others tells the people MORE about what we believe, and what following Jesus means to us than all tracts we pass out, or all the fine sermons we deliver.

At one time Gandhi said: “We must become the change we want to see.” That was brilliantly put! What Gandhi was saying is that we may not ask people to change when we have not ourselves set the example to lead the way of change. Why then didn’t he use the same principle and attitude to become a Christian? Although Hindu, he had a very close connection with Christianity and admired Jesus very much, often quoting from His favourite ‘Sermon on the Mount’ chapter in Mathew 5–7. It was realistic to expect him to be a follower of Christ on that basis, but he was not. When asked why he was not a Christian, he responded: “I will become a Christian when I meet one.”

Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps the best example of someone who was discerning enough to reject Christianity not Christ. He was deeply hurt by his experiences with apartheid and “Christians” during his time in South Africa, and it obviously stymied his relationship with Christ. Like Gandhi millions have been unable to see the Christ obscured by Christianity.

   

A missionary, met with Gandhi and asked him, “Mr Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is it that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?” Gandhi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” He added: “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.”

What did Gandhi imply here? Gandhi was saying in other words that he knew what Christ stood for but he was missing it in His followers. The question then is: Why didn’t Gandhi become the change he wanted to see in Christianity?

How could he possibly fail to understand that if he was to become a Christian, he wasn’t doing so ‘for Christians’ but for Christ whom he confessed to admire? He was not becoming the follower of Christians; he was becoming the follower of Christ.

Phillip Yancey helped me see this in his book The Soul Survivor.

Listen to a story he retells in that book:

Gandhi and Reverend Andrews, a Presbyterian missionary, were walking together in South Africa.  “The two suddenly find their way blocked by young thugs.  Reverend Andrews takes one look at the menacing gangsters and decides to run for it.  Gandhi stops him.  ‘Doesn’t the New Testament say if an enemy strikes you on the right cheek you should offer him the left?’  Andrews mumbles that he thought the phrase was used metaphorically.  ‘I’m not so sure,’ Gandhi replies.  ‘I suspect he meant you must show courage – be willing to take a blow, several blows, to show you will not strike back nor will you be turned aside.  And when you do that it calls on something in human nature, something that makes his hatred decrease and his respect increase. I think Christ grasped that and I have seen it work.’”

This active nonviolence that Gandhi preached and practiced brought freedom to the millions of Indians previously called Untouchables.  He began by giving them a new name.  Rather than Untouchables, he called them Harijans, or Children of God.  He called them brothers and stayed in their homes as much as possible.  This was radical because others would not be seen with them and would not dare touch them much less talk to them and fellowship with them.  One hundred million people in India now call themselves by a blessing rather than a curse because of the courage of this man.  He believed in the dignity of each person, women, lepers, lower caste members, children.  The Scriptures make clear that the poor and needy are close to the heart of God, and they were close to Gandhi’s heart as well.  Whatever you think about his religious beliefs, and no matter how much you or I may disagree with his beloved religion of Hinduism, he shows us a beautiful picture in a human life lived in humility, peace, and courageous love.

Okay, so why am I writing about Gandhi and asking us to contemplate what he said about “our Christ and our Christians?”

Because I am grieved that we are not showing forth the heart of Christ.  I am grieved that someone like Gandhi could like Christ but not see his likeness in those called by his name.  I am grieved that when Jesus walked this earth, sinners flocked to him as a safe place, and while they still do so today, often the church is not that place at all.  I am grieved that this quote from Gandhi too often reflects the true sentiments of multitudes of people today.

I know there are no perfect churches.  But I am talking about humbling ourselves before him and asking him to search our hearts,  and to show us ourselves and the real Jesus with spiritual eyes.  I am also talking about asking him to make us attractive to “sinners”, for us to be people who “join the rest of the human race.”  To become one follower of Christ that gives someone somewhere a taste of the heart of God.

Rather than try harder to be like Christ, we need the real Christ to show himself in our lives, and that begins with brokenness.   Letting others see the real us.  Letting him shine through the broken places.  Stopping the show of perfection, because it repells those outside the church. (and a lot of those within the church as well!)  Where did we get the idea that we have to “set a good example” anyway?  That usually ends in superficiality at best and  hypocrisy at worst.  Let us admit that we fall short, that yes, the church has failed, that we often don’t show his love.  This type of honesty may be just what it takes to begin to draw others to the perfection of Christ, through our admission of our own imperfection.

The Bottom Line is:

LOOKING FOR LASTING JOY

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy” – Romans 15:13

    How often have you found what you were looking for in life, only to realize it didn't bring you the satisfaction you thought it would?

     It is life’s ultimate frustration---thinking we will find fulfillment in the things of this world.  But they can never bring lasting happiness.  As one bumper sticker I saw expressed it, “All I want is a little more than I have now”.

     We look for love, security, and happiness through our jobs, our possessions, our relationships---but if they really brought lasting joy, wouldn't we have testimonies to that effect from millions of people all over the world?  Instead, we find emptiness, discontent, and hopelessness.

     Try putting Christ first and watch how your life is turned around.  You will discover that He alone is the source of the love, peace, and joy you have been searching for.

- Billy Graham

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Indian Independence struggle- Remembering Indian Freedom Fighters




I remember my maternal grandfather who fought for the freedom of the country. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of one and all. His village had no electricity, water was scarce, and a train, which passed by the village once a day, was the only connection to the rest of the world. Calling British imperialist rule 'a form of slavery', my late grandfather Dukkipati Nageswara Rao involved himself in the Indian Freedom Movement to end British rule of India.  He was a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence.

He belonged to that select breed of freedom fighters that walked the Gandhian path and contributed magnificently to making the freedom movement a truly mass movement in the country. He was barely twenty when he heeded Gandhiji's call for non-cooperation against the British and took it to the villages. He met Mahatma Gandhi in his home town near Gudivada during the Independence movement. It was a life-changing moment for him, who became fascinated with Gandhian philosophy after meeting the Mahatma. Chosen as a delegate to a meeting of the Indian National Congress, which the British declared illegal, he was arrested and sent to jail for two months. My grandfather’s stint in jail exposed him to even more active politics and nationalism.

Along with his Congress membership he was determined to be very active in State. In 1932, Gandhi called for a major nationwide Satyagraha against foreign goods. There were cries of ‘Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai’. As they began to move around picketing shops selling foreign goods, they were arrested, taken to prison, and charged with 4 and half months of rigorous imprisonment.  He set a personal example for his people in the years he spent in prison. He was never arrogant. He worked to mend the tears in Indian society and with his character managed to prevent outbursts of racial hatred. The great freedom fighter Late N.G.Ranga was his mentor and his political guru.


Dukkipati Nageswara Rao participated in all the Gandhian non-violent mass struggles in the three decades before Independence and spent a good part of his life in various jails. He was an indefatigable political worker and a skilful organizer. All set and done he even refused the Tamra Patra award given to frontline freedom fighters as well as national and state pensions accorded to such people.

There are so many known and many un-sung heroes who died for their motherland and the least we could do is not let their contributions and their sacrifices go into vain.

The numerous Freedom Fighters with their courage and true spirit had faced several tortures, hardships and exploitations to got freedom. Independent India was the dream of each and every Indian who lived under the British rule. Each and every individual during the British rule fought in some or other way having a common aim of abolishing the British and various other colonial authorities ruling over different parts of India.

The Indian Independence struggle had many important chapters including the Revolt of 1857, Jalianawala Bagh massacre, Non-cooperation Movement to the Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement. India went through a long journey that had numerous national and regional drives and the two main weapons used were truth and non-violence.

As the tri-color flutters in the sky, let each citizen promise to work hard to bring glory to the country and reach the goal of making India a great nation that stands for human values.

I  leave you with my favorite quote:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I salute all the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives. Remembering them especially on this Republic day.


Warm Regards,

Raj Kosaraju

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Beginnings



Psalms 1:1

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

A time for starting over. A new beginning. A wonderful time to take stock of life and look for ways to improve and grow. Too often, careless resolutions are made that are never kept, and so one year blends into the next with little change. The fact is, all of us have areas in our lives that could stand some improvement. As this new year begins, let us look at our lives with honesty and candor. Let us approach change with a positive spirit, and work toward finding ways to become the people that god wants us to be. Most importantly, ask the Lord to guide and strengthen, for it is through His power that we are able to conquer our failings and turn them into strengths. God is able to see us both as we are and as we can be, and we need that sight in order to truly change. He will steer us away from the ungodly. He will liberate us from the way of sin. He will lead us from scorn to joy. The Lord will do all this and more because of His great and abiding love for His children. Rejoice i n the love of God. he has given us a new year, and desires to give us a new life.

Yes, believers can experience loneliness. I believe the Holidays are the loneliest time of the year. People are told everywhere they're supposed to be happy and they realize they're not. They see everybody else acting happy, and they feel so lonely.

Death, divorce, desertion—even travel can make you lonely. Success can make you lonely. You often hear “it's lonely at the top.” Old age makes you lonely. You can be lonely in a big crowd. You can be lonely in a mall. Loneliness is one of the chief maladies of our age, but Jesus promised, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

What I am saying, my dear friend, is that when I am discouraged, His presence sees me through. When I am lonely, His presence cheers me up. And when I am worried, His presence calms me down.

The road to success is cluttered with detours, problems and disappointments. And if you don't have the right mindset, your dreams can die there. Indeed, there are days when the needle on your passion meter will be on empty. On those days you need to remember that God gave you your dream to begin with; go back to Him and ask for the strength to keep moving toward it. The Psalmist wrote, 'For You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall' (Psalm 18:28-29 NKJV).

Who gives you the power to run and leap? God! But you can't sit back, fold your arms and think that He will do it all for you. Between your dream's inspiration and its manifestation, there's going to be a lot of perspiration. As every new parent finds out - it's much harder having and raising a baby than conceiving one. But if you have the passion for your dream, the price tag won't stop you. You'll get up every morning, draw on God's grace and take one more step in the direction of the thing you know God put you on this earth to do.

God’s blessings in your life are sometimes conditional. God withholds blessing to get your attention and bring you to repentance. But even that is an act of love. Sometimes God lets you go through difficulty when you don’t need to repent. He is giving you the opportunity to grow closer to Him, or to minister to someone.

But His love for you is unconditional and unchanging. You can always rely on that truth. Is God asking you to trust Him about something today?

The truth is: We serve a generous God. He delights in giving us opportunities beyond our capabilities. He has promised to equip us, and remain with us through each bend in the road. Although we may not know what is around the corner, we can trust the One who called us. He is our comfort and courage, sustaining us through difficulty and rewarding us generously.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju