A Short Sermon on Peace

The world is waiting. Yes, the world is waiting for a day when there will be peace. It is amazing how, in spite of great technological advancements, there is unrest in human hearts like never before.

Worry over individual and family needs by itself alone drives men and women to despair. Not to mention global concerns like wars, natural disasters and refugee problems. As if problems here are not enough man is desperately probing outer space to find out a dwelling place in future.

But that future is far away. Our question is whether we can enjoy peace now in our lifetime? Perhaps the honest and truthful answer is NO! Before you call me a pessimist, let me say that I am a realist. Because the greatest realist I have ever encountered said, “In this world you will have trouble.”

There are two thoughts here. One, the presence of trouble is expected. Two, the emphasis on this world strongly underlies that there is another world where troubles are going to be absent. That gives us hope that someday we can have peace. But then that does not solve our present day problems.

Now let me take a look at the quote in full, because I quoted it only in part first. It says, “I have told you these things that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Well that is a new way to look at peace! Instead of saying that you have to sign peace treaties or sport olive leaves in emblems or fly white balloons or doves; someone is saying that to find peace you have to look to him. Who is this person who is so bold to make such a statement? And what is the basis on which he has made this claim.

It was at the birth of this child that a mass angelic choir sang: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”* His name is Jesus, the Prince of Peace!

You need not believe his claims. Nobody compels you to do so. But if you desire to have peace, God’s own peace in your life, you can ask him to give you his peace.

This peace that he gives does not depend on circumstances. Storms can rage around you and waves might rise sky high; yet when he is in your boat it will not sink. For he is master over all.

This peace that he gives will not be taken away from you even when people misunderstand you and reject you and say all kinds of evil against you.

This peace that he gives you will not be absent when you lack so many basic needs of life and there is trouble inside the family and pressure at your workplace.

And then there are pressures that come without warning. Sudden disasters. Accidents. Loss of loved ones. Prolonged illnesses. We are shaken like leaves shaken in the wind. We cry our hearts out. We question the very meaning of life. We rail against God.

Can this peace hold true then? If it holds it is beyond human understanding.

He has made peace real–peace between God and man and peace within our hearts and with fellow men–through his shed blood on the cross. On the cross he was pierced for our sins, mistakes and shortcomings and he was crushed for our wrongdoings. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him.

Therefore why remain without peace? Let his peace rule our hearts and home.

Amen.

2 Minute Speech on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Mankind!

Hi friends,

Every age has its scientific discoveries and inventions. But today’s scientific advancements can impact globally in very short time. Such is the progress made in the field of artificial intelligence or AI.

AI is in simple terms machines and computers learning, thinking and doing what human intelligence does. Instead of doing certain tasks repeatedly, with AI, machines operate from data that we feed them with to recognize human voices, use human language, drive cars or even the ability to suggest the next course of treatment or an article or book you might like to read.

Artificial Intelligence is something which impacts our everyday life. If you have ever used the Google search engine they give you optimized, so near to what you asked for results based on AI. On the other extreme AI is used in Robotics and even in weaponry which can function without human aid.

Now let me ask this vital question, why is there a surge in the field of AI? Several thrusts can be pointed out. But science and technology is trying to create a super intelligence that can outperform human beings not just in specific tasks but in complex cognitive activity which includes decision-making, problem-solving, memory, speech recognition, attention and judgement.

This can lead mankind to a life of ease like never known before when lot of what they had to perform is done to perfection with the help of AI aided robots or machines. But then there is a danger here. What if AI through some chance or misjudged human calculation acquires smarter intelligence that can control human beings or wreck disasters unheard of?

Yes, there are benefits of AI that we are yet to see that far outweighs these assumed dangers. Maybe no one can stop the march of science or those with scientific pursuit and perseverance who are passionately working in the R & D of AI. Soon someday what many thought as Science Fiction, which people read about in novels or watched in movies as future becomes real and operational now.

If AI creates automated jobs in plenty, will that replace much of human skill and labour? That might be an interesting question of concern to many. Or will AI create more careers or at least offer a few career paths which intelligent kids might be tempted to pursue?

Well, let me conclude. There was a time called the beginning when God created man in his image and likeness. But man running independent of God is capable of acts and deeds that mar the purpose for which man was created. We see the impact of that in the environment as well as in senseless destruction through wars and man’s greed.

Likewise AI created by man to have the complex ability to think and act like human beings can act in destructive mode if something goes wrong. Hacking and programming errors or even robots starting to communicate with each other in a language man will not be able to understand can well be the nightmare of tomorrow.

As the world’s leading technology Companies are competing with each other to show the world their prowess through pioneering AI; as efforts are being made to deify AI to semi-god status, robots can some day gain enough intelligence to challenge the might of man. Though it might be in the future, we might lose our sleep on it this very night.

Thank you.

Do robots care? Is there someone who cares? There are moments of despair in every human life when one wished for Someone who cared; isn’t it?

2 Minute Speech on the Meaning of Death!

(A sequel to 2 Minute Speech on the Meaning of Life!)

Hi friends,

Life is all that we have.

One life, and then what? is a big question. If man’s philosophies offer some light when death’s call is sounded then certainly man has no need of God. But are all men and women confident that they can face death’s final call? It is a debatable question indeed.

Now let us move to the beginning. The Bible makes a simple and profound statement as its opening line. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). A person’s knowledge of God begins or ends here. If he finds it hard to believe that God is the Creator of what he sees and experiences around him; then he can only believe in chance and in evolution.

Now for a moment let us believe that everything evolved. How does it explain decay and death? Why is that man does not live for ever in spite of the fact that most efforts of mankind are directed at extending the quality and longevity of life?

Why is it that no better statement than one made by Moses in the Bible portrays reality like no other: “The length of our days is seventy years–or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10)? The truth is that death is the reality that all confront.

You might say there are reasons for death. But my question is why does death happen? It is because God exists! Just as surely are there laws of nature like the law of gravity there are moral laws that God has set in place in this earth. It is the violation of God’s moral laws that has brought death to man.

And here is how the death sentence was pronounced on man. God said, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return (Genesis 3:19).”

In other words, death came into this world because of man’s rebellion against God. It is a fact that God created man to live for ever and also he intended man to live in dependence on him. The Bible again says, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD (Deuteronomy 8:3).”

The fall of man came about because he yielded to the temptation of doubting God’s word. For the first temptation came in these words, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1b). Death resulted when God’s word was doubted and when man chose to run his life independently of God.

Today also the scene is no different. Everywhere people are confronted with this choice. To chose to believe what God has said or to run his life as if God does not exist. But the reality of death compels us to think a second time about the meaning of life and death.

Of course, we do not have all the answers. But seen from God’s eyes life and death has meaning. For life becomes meaningful when you understand that God has a purpose in your creation. And death is a mystery that points out to you the misery, agony, pain and anguish of separation.

If separation from a loved one can give this much pain, it also points to the pain in the heart of God to see the crown of his creation–men and women created in his own image and likeness–separated from him through rebellion and sin. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death . . .” That is the bad news. But it puts things in perspective as to why death came into this world.

For the moment let us pursue the question of pain. Does God feel pain? At least there are two thoughts we can think about. One, the shortest verse in the Bible which says, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). That was in front of the tomb of his friend Lazarus. That means God in flesh experienced the pain of separation of a loved one.

But greater was the pain of separation he felt when he laid down his life shedding his blood on the cross. He cried out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Yes, God in human flesh died.

So when we think of ultimate questions of life–injustice, inequality, suffering, cruelty, war, disabilities, diseases, and death–we do not have all the answers. But we have the companionship of one who tasted death for us. That alone is our comfort. The knowledge that he knows what it feels like. The assurance that he understands the void and vacuum the loss of someone leaves behind.

Now let me come back to the good news. I quoted earlier, “For the wages of sin is death.” Let me now quote it in full. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

That gives it a totally different colour. It shows us that God tasted death so that we can have life. Not just life in human terms; but life which is the very life of God; of the same quality and unending. It shows us that those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead will share the same experience.

Yes, the good news is that there is life beyond the final curtain. And you too can have it when you trust and believe in the One who made this stupendous claim, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”(John 11:25, 26).

Life is too short. And it is unpredictable as well. No one knows when his call to meet God will come. For “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore prepare to meet your God!*
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All Bible Quotes are from the New International Version (NIV).
*Amos 4:12
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” — Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:17).
Speech on Respect
Jesus Christ of Nazareth!

2 Minute Speech for Students on Democracy

Hi Friends,

Loudspeakers blaring with appeals to vote for a particular candidate.
Banners, flags, and colourful posters waved by rallying masses.
Speeches spitting fire. Debates and arguments.
Motorcades and walks and marches.
House to house campaigns. Leaflets and pamphlets being distributed.
Candidates appearing on television.

Well, here in these images that flashed across your mind’s eye the gateway opens to your understanding of democracy. Let us forget the excitement of elections for a moment. And ask ourselves, What is democracy? Let us try to find out.

Freedom that brings responsibility, to borrow a thought from Nehru’s Tryst with Destiny speech, is the bedrock of democracy. Its power is vested in people or as the word democracy literally means “rule of the people.” Leadership that arises out of the people’s will and mandate is what drives a democracy forward.

The right to free speech as well as the right to choose are fundamental to democracy. One way to look at democracy is the way oration of leaders have played in shaping history. Even the popular definition of democracy as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is the concluding thought of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.

Democracy thrives when there is a free flow of ideas.
It thrives when the dignity of individuals and their basic rights are upheld, preserved and cherished.
It thrives when oppositions are strong and bring forth constructive criticism of government policies.
Of course, where there are constitutions, the judiciary plays a significant and vital role in upholding the values enshrined in the constitution. When respect to the legislature, the law-making body of democracy is violated then it is the first step to the disintegration of democratic values.

The challenges of democracy are many:
The kind of corruption that is rampant in democratic institutions is phenomenal.
Criminalization of politics is another.
The dearth of women representation is an area of concern when half of the population is women.
Regional parties playing a kingmaker’s role in national politics is not desirable as it weakens the national outlook.
The lack of political will in implementing beneficial policies is often seen when governments play vote bank appeasing politics.
These are some serious challenges faced by democracy. Even then much good has been done in terms of equality, justice for all, freedom of speech and religion, and inclusion of the weaker and marginalized sections of society into the mainstream of public life, education, employment and the like.

Again, the role of the media as shaping public opinion is worthy of consideration. That is why whenever a dictator takes over in a democracy his first act is to shut down and put a curb on all media. In this 21st century, technology in the form of internet and social media has made everyone capable of contributing their ideas and critiques. This has created greater visibility to politicians and also it acts as a deterrent as anything done wrong can instantly go viral.

Democracy is best seen when governments are voted out of power. It reminds great leaders and their political parties that ultimately it is people who reign and they are at best ministers or servants of the masses.

To conclude, there is no other better or satirical presentation of democracy than found in G. B. Shaw’s preface to The Apple Cart. He says that “I am going to ask you to begin our study of Democracy by considering it first as a big balloon, filled with gas or hot air, and sent up so that you shall be kept looking up at the sky whilst other people are picking your pockets.”

But not all is negative about democracy. What is now required is for people to become more aware and educated about the power of their vote; how important it is to exercise their franchise when they get a chance to do so.

Even as political slogans and sound bites still sway the hearts and minds of the masses;
even as the excitement and frenzy of campaigning takes over every few years;
the hope expressed by Abraham Lincoln will live on:
the “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth!”

Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, here introducing the man who is timeless yet historical. He appeals to you not by his power or majesty; but by his meekness and humility and because he is truly a servant-leader. Above all; on top of a hill he stood for you like no one else ever did! >>

Featured image: Three children curiously watching a political rally in progress in Thiruvananthapuram, capital city of Kerala.

Rise Up in God’s Strength!

(A motivational speech for those who are defeated and label themselves failures!)

Life is too short. You cannot afford to stay defeated. Rise up my friend. Today you are defeated. That is true. But what is not true is your belief that you are destined to fail. Who told you this lie? More importantly, why did you choose to believe it?

The moment you think that your resources are not enough, you are on the losing side already. Not many of the great achievers in the history of this world had much resources to boast about. But what they had was the desire–not just the desire; but a burning desire that never took NO for an answer. This burning desire to achieve was the lifeblood that helped them survive all odds and heartbreaks and make it.

Now I am not asking you to achieve something spectacular. What I am asking you is to stop telling lies to yourself. Why should you say, “I am not good enough?” Tell me honestly, isn’t that an excuse you have found out to stay in your comfort zone? Remember God created you unique with a purpose. If he created you to be a lamp giving light; you can never be comfortable hiding your light underneath a bowl. Let it shine.

The great promise of God to you is this: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” The eagle is a bird that undergoes a lot of change in its early years; its feathers change colour indicating growth as it matures and gains extraordinary strength to fly. God says that in this time of waiting and hoping even when nothing seems to happen, he is pouring out strength into you.

Photo source: https://leesbird.com/2009/09/25/b-o-b-eagle-renewal/

It is available to those “who hope in the LORD” as a modern translation reads. “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”*. Yes, God wants you to fly high. He wants you to move in the strength he gives. This is his promise. Would you dare to believe and act on it?

Let not your past failures prevent you from performing well in the present opportunity. Do not allow misgivings about your own ability stop your from giving your best at this time. God did not create you to be a failure. Maybe you have failed many times. But that does not make God give up on you. He is asking you to wait on him.

Now what does that mean? It means that you should stop looking to your friends to give the strength only God can give. No one else can substitute that. Again, waiting on God means to trust in God’s goodness, love and mercy towards you. It means to believe that God has plans, the best of its kind for you; plans to give you hope and a future.

My friend, do not give up just because you feel that you are not capable. God is more than willing to step into your inabilities and make you achieve awesome victories even when you are weak. No longer are you a helpless victim! Know that for certain! No more excuses. No more blaming your circumstances. Not any more of finding fault with people for your own wrong choices.

Therefore rise up in God’s strength. The time of waiting is over. It is time to say goodbye to all those wasted years; because now God is ready to repay you in double measure for all that lost time and opportunities. Only if you are willing to rise up and obey God with all your heart and soul and strength! Yes, rise up in God’s strength and soar on wings like eagles!

*Isaiah 40:31 NIV Bible.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
Speech on the Importance of English

——–

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

— Romans 5:5–8 NIV Bible.

A Speech on Mobile Phones: Boon or Bane!

Hi Friends,

Mobile phones have changed the way people communicate. Everywhere you see people talking over phone while on the move.

For many people life revolves around mobile phones. The advantage is that you can keep in touch with people with ease. You can maintain friendships and relationships. Through mobile phones and a variety of apps, distances and memories are bridged in real time. It is nothing less than amazing what technology has wrought through mobile phones.

That is about connection.

Another advantage is the sense of security it gives to people. For example elderly parents when alone at home can get in touch with their children in an instant in case of an emergency. Mothers can keep in constant touch with their daughters while they travel alone. Or even if your vehicle gets punctured on the road or meets with an accident you can call for help right from there. These advantages cannot be overlooked.

That is about confidence.

Third advantage is that most mobile phones give you access to world wide web and the information super highway. Knowledge is just a search away. Whether it be referring to a dictionary, or looking up “how to” do something in a Youtube video, or gathering information from Wikipedia, websites, blogs and the like; people find it at lightning speed with the help of search engines like google.

That is about comprehension.

If you still try to analyze the benefits of mobile phones it includes banking, shopping, purchasing tickets, photography, music and to mention the ease of switching on the light in case of a sudden power cut. In that sense some people say mobiles are extension of their hands.

That is about convenience.

So, the benefits of mobile phones can be summed up in four words: Connection, Confidence, Comprehension, and Convenience.

Now let me mention how mobile phones can become a bane.

First and foremost mobile phones can easily make people addicted to its use. The long hours people spend on mobile phones certainly steal from quality time you can spend at work, with family and friends. In other words mobile phones are a distraction preventing you from sharply focusing on your task ahead.

That is about distraction.

Secondly, people do use mobile phones to engage in secretive relationships. It is used to violate private spaces including the sacred marriage relationship. Somehow Facebook, WhatsApp and other apps have given a sense of ease and a false sense of freedom to people to engage in clandestine relationships. This has destroyed many families. Children are growing up seeing their parents spend long hours chatting with strangers neglecting their family responsibilities. Of course, you might call me outdated when I say so. But I prefer to be labelled than to stop saying the truth. Let me repeat again, this is a dangerous aspect of mobile phones.

That is about demolition.

Yet another negative of mobile phones is the damage it does to one’s body in the long run. Whether radiation is causing harm or not is still debated. But today we find people engaging with their mobiles with heads bowed down. There are people who injure their necks and back and wrists and eyes and ears because of long use of mobile phones. How can I fail to point out the great number of accidents caused by people using mobile phones while driving.

That is about destruction.

Finally, what about the market influence of mobiles? Why is there such flashy media hype about new mobiles arriving at the market? Why is it that even selfies, a kind of social disease,  are made the stuff of advertisements? It is amazing to see how people get so choosy and obsessed with gadgets. Mobiles beyond their functionality and variety of uses often becomes a style statement. It becomes synonymous with a man’s purchasing power and social status. Gadgets and their possession is a terribly deluded way to compute one’s attempt to define the meaning of one’s life.

That is about display.

Let me once again note the four words related to the negative influences of mobiles: Distraction, Demolition, Destruction and Display.

Now that both sides have been heard and let me conclude.

None of us today can afford to avoid mobile phones. But certainly we can ensure that mobile phones are our servants and not our masters. We can fix boundaries for the time we spend with mobile phones; boundaries that should not be stretched or crossed. We can then live with dignity with the assurance that mobile phones serve our cause and that they will not dictate us to a life of bondage and slavery and unending boredom with so called entertainment.

Choose life and not death!

Thank you.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” — Jesus Christ (Luke 12:15 Bible)

A Speech on the Importance of English

A Short Speech on 3 Sure Ways How People Fail!

Hi Friends,

There is a lot of talk about how to achieve success out there; isn’t it? Such talks inspire and motivate us.

But then why do people fail to succeed consistently?
Why is it that only a few find success while for a vast majority success remains in the wish list always?

There are surely answers to these questions? Yes, as surely as there is life and death, there are principles of success and there are patterns, behaviours and habits that lead to failure. In this short speech, let me try to point out some ways that lead to failure.

If you ask me which is the most important reason why people fail; I can confidently say that it is their inability to say NO when confronted with a wrong choice. In other words such people try to please everybody. They are dominated by “What will others think about me?” thinking.

The failure to say NO with boldness the first time they get a chance to do so is the road that takes many through pain and bitterness and sorrow even though the entry to it was often through the gateway of pleasure.

The second major cause of failure in the modern world is the inability to say NO to distractions. We live in a noisy world with a lot of voices and sounds everywhere. You cannot walk through the street without being visually attracted to all the colours and brightly lit adverts everywhere. But these are nothing compared to the distractions that come to us through gadgets especially mobile phones and through social media like WhatsApp and Facebook.

The trouble with distractions is that they come in good packets which makes it difficult for you to resist. My friends, distractions take your eyes off your goals and make you lose sharp focus. As far as I know, there are not many who have achieved success in life without having pursued it with a single-minded aim.

Interestingly, the next reason for failure is something that will bring a smile to your face. It is nothing other than procrastination. Let me ask you how many times have you postponed doing things you should have done? How many times did such delaying of things dishearten you when pending tasks became a little mountain?

If you wish to avoid this trap, ask two questions when confronted with tasks. Is this urgent? Is this important? Having obtained those answers tackle the hardest and toughest task first. And never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today as Sir Benjamin Franklin said.

There are many other causes for failure. Some among them are, lack of a specific aim or goal; the absence of planning and teamwork, not setting meaningful and realistic deadlines and sticking to it, the inability to persevere in the face of difficulties and setbacks, and of course not updating knowledge. Perhaps you can add many more to this list.

But I can assuredly tell you with all confidence that if you work on the three core ideas mentioned in this speech, you can reverse the trend of failure in your life. Let me repeat those important points once again.

To succeed in life,
One, learn to say NO with boldness the first time you are confronted with a wrong choice.
Two,have the courage to say NO to distractions even when they come in good packets.
And Three, say NO to laziness, instead prioritize tasks and do things promptly without postponing.

Now, let me tell you my friends, you can listen to all the motivational talks, workshops and seminars on success. But what you hear will only work for you if you follow it up with decisive decisions and action.

Thank you.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth!