|A Periodic Letter to my friends 7 April 2009|
To my Friends...
This being my first letter of the year, I’m reminded of what I preached in the New Year midnight Service of one of the local Churches in Vellore—
Some years in history have been remembered for their tragedies, which have left many unhealed wounds and permanent scars. One wonders whether 2008 has become such a year in history! The 2008 Dec 28 Sunday Magazine of The Hindu newspaper has pointed out a few things—
The Wall Street meltdown has highlighted the excesses of an unregulated system; Crashdown of global economy; Price rise: One third of Indians, that is 400 million people, are eating one third less today than what they were eating in 1975. Even in 1975 it was less than the UN’s stated daily minimum; Bomb blasts in Bengaluru, Jaipur, Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra and Assam; Communal violence against Christians, especially Khandamol in Orissa, which also spread to Karnataka and several other States—Nearly 300 villages were wiped off their Christian population— It is said more communal violence in 2008 since 2002 against Muslim community; The Mumbai tragedy makes terrorism more complex than ever to be tackled. And there are great hopes and high expectations as the first Black President of US assumes office in January 2009.
As I was reflecting on these things, I was reminded of Christ’s words at the end of His Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 7:24-27, “Whoever hears These Sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” We know what happened to the house built on sand. The “rains” and “floods” and “winds” of the present happenings don’t spare anyone. The solid rock is “these sayings” of Jesus, namely what He has taught us in “this” Sermon. The teaching in this 3-chapter Sermon can be divided into five major exhortations as to How we can not only survive these days but also thrive in them.
1. Stay broken. If you look at them carefully, all the 8 Beatitudes speak of brokenness of heart and contriteness in spirit (Mt 5:3-10). The opposites are arrogance, haughtiness, highmindedness, pride, despising others, overconfidence and accusing others. The greatest virtue to be learnt from Jesus is meekness and lowliness (Mt 11:29). Jesus is King, but He rides not on a horse but a donkey. He is majestic but meek. He is lofty but lowly. The Beatitudes speak of blessedness rather than blessings. Blessings are what we receive; but blessedness is what we are! You can fall down from a cot but not from a mat! No one can break you if you are already broken!
2. Grow in holiness. Mt 5:13-20, 27-32
3. Abound in love. Mt 5:21-26, 38-48; 6:14,15; 7:1-5
4. Be Biblical in spiritual disciplines. Mt 6:1-4, 5-9, 16-18; 7:15-23
5. Trust God for future. Mt 6:19-21, 24-34
This full one hour sermon in English is available on an audio CD, titled Happy New Year! You may write to me for a free copy. I urge you to read through the Sermon on the Mount atleast once every six months lest you forget the Kingdom values. Set your priorities right. We are preparing to receive a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 12:26-29).
Now for some news—
In the 6-day Keswick Convention in Calcutta in February, I preached in the last three evening meetings besides morning Bible studies. The thirst of believers from various Churches to hear God’s Word was encouraging. The evening talks were translated into Bengali. God willing I will be visiting this State of West Bengal again this year in November for meetings in Kharagpur.
Visiting Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh after 16 years gave me a good time with the Christians of this town. I was there this time to address a 3-day Inter-Church Convention, Feb 20-22. There were some senior men of God who remembered what all I preached during my first visit! My books and those of my wife have left a lasting impact in the hearts of people here. I was further encouraged to keep on doing faithfully whatever the Lord has entrusted me with, fixing up my mind on eternal dividends only.
The 4-day Sound Doctrine Seminar, Feb 27-28 & Mar 6-7, in Dubai-Abudhabi in the UAE, was a blessed time though the attendance was rather poor. It was pointed out by some that this Seminar should have been sponsored by a single Church, and not organised as an inter-Church programme. Too many splits in Churches and Assemblies, and overcrowding of visiting preachers are worrying factors in almost all the Gulf States. Life for many non-resident Indian Christians in this part of the world has become too hectic and mechanical to find quality time for devotional disciplines. The job-cuts due to economic crisis have intensified anxieties. Pray that God’s purposes in taking Christians to this Muslim world would be fully accomplished.
On my personal invitation, 62 of my friends, who have been blessed immensely over the years through my Bible Teaching ministry, assembled in Tiruchy, Tamilnadu, on 14 March. It was to discuss how we could distribute my books, audio and video CDs to Christians who never had the opportunity to listen to me. The chief beneficiaries of my over 3-decade teaching ministry have been the friends and partners of the Blessing Youth Mission. This is hardly 1% of the Indian believers. Fairminded Christians would agree that solid and sound doctrinal teaching has become rare. There’s material prosperity but spiritual penury. This is the “famine” that Prophet Amos spoke about (Am 8:11,12). Several of those who gathered in Tiruchy have volunteered to serve the Body of Christ through my teaching materials. If you are one of those blessed through my preaching, teaching and writing, I urge you to do something definite and systematic to pass on these materials to those who have “nothing” (Neh 8:10). Write to me so I would arrange to leave with you a stock of books and CDs worth Rs. 5000/- or 10000/-. Go house to house, visit Churches and Institutions with these materials. God will surprise you with unexpected things.
As the two rooms in our house in which I have been working on my Daily Devotional and the DVDs are getting congested, I’m putting up two more rooms. Even this won’t to be enough at the present rate of expansion. Join me in prayer as I’m planning some decentralisation of these works. I remember the humble way in which I started my post-retirement activities in 2003. God has once again proved that He is a God of small beginnings (Mt 13:31; Zech 4:10a)!
The weeklong Revival Meetings in Muscat, Mar 20-27, organized by the Bread of Life Fellowship, were well attended by believers of various Churches. I delivered six Talks. My wife and I have been associating with this Fellowship from the early 80s, since the time it started as a cottage prayer group. Its growth has been consistent. It is this Fellowship which provided funds in 2000 for a Toyota Qualis car for our personal and ministerial use. This they did in gratitude to the rich spiritual input they had received from me over the years (1 Cor 9:11). They have honoured me by keeping me as the first of the three Patriarchs and Advisors in their Constitution. Pray much for this English Fellowship which caters to the spiritual needs of various nationalities.
The 10 Talks telecast in the Tamilan TV, under the topic How not to Pray, are now available as a 2-DVD Pack of 5 hours duration, at Rs.150/-. Get a copy for you and your friends in these days when there are simply too many unscriptural and heathenic practices which have crept into the holy exercise of prayer. These Talks are now available on my website, StanleyOnBible.com You can watch it and download it freely. Thousands are taking advantage of this provision.
The next topic, How not to Meditate, will conclude in the TV on Thursday the 9th instant. These 10 Talks also would soon be made available as a 2-DVD pack of 5 hours. God willing, I will begin the next topic, How not to Give, on Thursday the 16th (9.30 to 10.00). My Tamil Translator, E.L. Ephraim, with his huge responsibilities as the Headmaster of a Higher Secondary School, finds it difficult to spare a few days each month for the TV recording. I have therefore requested one Mr. Durai Jasper, a staff of CMC Hospital, to help me in this area. He has willingly accepted. We have already recorded five Talks. We are doing it in Vellore itself in our small studio. Brother Ephraim will however continue to help me for the meetings in Tamilnadu.
I want to really thank God for the excellent Translators He gives me all across India for various vernaculars. Most of them are the best in translation in their respective States. Here’s one of the testimonies from my vernacular Translators: “Brother, it’s difficult to translate for you because I get so lost and engrossed in the messages you preach that I at times fail to catch the next words to be translated!” Yes, it is when the message gets into the “heart and spirit” of the Translator, his “head and skill” would experience optimal anointing.
The Malayalam edition of my daily devotional, Better Everyday, has at last rolled off the Press. The same will be officially released in a gathering at the Christian Medical College Hospital here in Vellore on the 22nd this month. My heart surgeon who operated on me 13 years ago on 23 April 1996 will be one of the two who would receive the first copy of this book. He is a Malayalee who reads the English version regularly. I have chosen to have this book released in Vellore because this town is a mini Kerala! The Bengali edition is just about to go to the Press. Translation is not over yet for the Marathi and Gujarathi editions. Such a work takes time. The financial investment also is heavy. Contributions welcome.
Summer months are known for Conventions and Gospel Crusades. Be wise when you organise public meetings. You can avoid unnecessary problems by not inviting foreigners as speakers. Even with Indian preachers, make sure there are no inflammatory speeches. Preach the pure Gospel forthrightly without adulteration leaving the results in the hands of God.
Do not plan a hectic schedule during summer vacation. Take sufficient time, to rest and relax, for yourself and your family. Plan to read through one or two books. Instead of again and again attending meetings to receive blessings, go to programmes where you would be equipped to become a blessing to others.
Thank you so much for remembering me regularly before the Throne of Grace. By God’s immense grace I would be completing 13 years on 23 April after my heart surgery. As I write these lines my eyes are full with tears of gratitude to my Lord who is still extending my life on earth. I have no ambition whatsoever other than to share with God’s people all that He has revealed to me from His holy Word. My prayer at this point of time is—
I request my Tamil friends to forgive me for saying “no” too often for their invitations to preach in meetings in
Tamilnadu. During the last 40 years I have spent so much time and energy for Tamil Christians. Now I desire to do justice to the non-Tamil States (Lk 4:42,43). These days I don’t accept more than 2 or 3 programmes for a year in Tamilnadu. Please allow me to concentrate on non-Tamil States as long as I am able to travel. Thank you for understanding.
Please send your mobile number to Mr. T. Ruso (98423 68424) or Mr. S. Ezekiel (94444 47744) to receive instant news of my programmes. More prayer means more power; less prayer, less power; no prayer, no power!