Tremble – Worship @ Church

To cut to the chase, I had built the worship set today around the song “Tremble”. I had the usual hurdles before I reached church – stringing together the medley was not easy, only Surina was available to help and the weather was rainy and gloomy. I thought that the worship session would be the calm through all this. I wasn’t prepared for the tremors that shook me before the beginning of the service. I first discovered that the key to the mixer was not available – but that was an easy fix and Neelavenan Annan found it for us. As JJ and I set up the mixer and microphones we hit the next major hurdle. With just twenty minutes to go, the laptop refused to boot and was stuck at the first screen.

I desperately texted the church requesting someone to bring a laptop, but most had already left. The church laptop was not in the office and the new laptop ordered for the worship team was still not set up. We didn’t have a working HDMI-VGA adapter for my laptop – the one in church was broken. Things were shaky but not hopeless – Ravish said he’d bring a HDMI-VGA adapter and Sharon/Faith said they would bring their laptop and try to reach on time. Would that be good enough and quick enough?

After multiple attempts, we decided that those keys marked F1-F12 could help us. They didn’t when we tried. After a desperate prayer we zeroed in on F12 again. As we kept it pressed, the key slowly coaxed the laptop to go into some boot menu and we did a one-time boot. Bingo! After a little whirring and some frowns, the old Dell laptop booted, albeit reluctantly. We managed to practice the main medley and then the Church service started. The darkness (frozen boot-up screen) literally trembled and gave way to prayer and I really needed God to calm the raging sea inside of me as we seemed so rushed when the service started. Arpudh smoothened out the mixer and we felt Gods solid presence lead us through the time of worship.

I’ll leave you with a few thoughts I have shared on our Church website and add the worship audio to this diary. Hope it blesses you.

The Bible is filled with references to trembling, shaking and shuddering. Raging sea and troubled waters are all calmed by the immensely powerful name of Jesus. Mighty mountains will tremble before the Lord. Demons shudder at the mention of His name.The same power is seen when he calms the raging storms in our hearts if we give our hearts to Him and stand on the solid rock of Christ. Just a word from Him can bring peace and still to our lives. 
Song List
You shall go out with joy
God is good, we sing and shout it
My hope is built
Here’s my heart
Jesus, name above all names
Still (When the oceans rise)

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Microsoft ‘End of Life’ Discussions in the ICU

(Warning: Hypothetical Conversation only included)

So I had this end of life discussion with a Microsoft employee who’s father was extremely sick and was probably not going to make it. 
Me: Your dad is very sick and is on multiple life support medications and machines with continuous dialysis. He has multiple cannulae infusing medications and more tubes monitoring his vital signs. He appears to be unresponsive to everything. 
Him: Doc, have you tried disconnecting and pulling out all the tubes, cannula, wires and monitors, turning everything off for 10 seconds, putting them all together again and then powering everything back on. 
Me: That would result in a hard reset of his life. 
Him: And what exactly is that Doc?
Me: All data and malfunctions will be wiped off and he will be restored back to factory specifications with basic software only. 
Him: …and….
Me: If you believe in reincarnation, it means that your dad will die and will be reborn as a newborn baby somewhere else. If reincarnation is not true then we cannot recover any data. We may be able to use some internal parts on another entity as an organ transplant.

I think he understood how sick his dad was that day.

Note: This is very definitely a hypothetical situation and no such event has ever happened. I apparently need to put in a note to this effect to avoid getting sued by Microsoft or penalized by the MCI/NMC

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Here’s My Heart Lord – Worship on 21st July

I led worship this Sunday at Church. I just loved how all the songs fell in place. I had listened to the theme song “Here’s My Heart” by I Am They more than a year ago and loved it. I somehow knew it would make it to a worship set one day and this was the chosen Sunday! With the theme revolving around HEART, ‘Open the Eyes of My Heart’ was a natural opener. The fun part came when I took Anaya to the park with lots of swings and slides and hoops, etc and watched her run all around happy. The Sunday School song ‘Happy All the Time’ kept playing in my head and as I sat down to piece together songs for the worship session, literally forced itself into the plans! It felt God-led and even though I considered dropping it, it stuck on and was a blessing when we sang it in Church! The mix of Change My Heart and Refiners Fire fell in place as I sat on the bed strumming the guitar pondering on the theme. Surprisingly Becky asked if I would use these songs at worship time when she came to now the theme. Lovely Lord came out of poring through a song book and the Hymn ‘Take My Life’ again was a natural addition to the song list.

Once again, for the key song (Here’s my Heart) I looked through the lyrics to match the words to scripture references and it was an amazing experience for me and for the Church – here’s a link to the video with the lyrics and Bible Verses.

“The word ‘Heart’ occurs a thousand times in the Bible. It symbolises the individual,   and often refers to ones desires, knowledge, emotions and more. Giving our heart to God is surrendering our life to God completely. When we open the eyes of our heart and see that God is loving, compassionate and truthful, we experience the power of cleansing and the joy of freedom – the kind of joy that makes a child run helter skelter in a playground! God is lovely and all powerful. In Him there is no evil. He is trustworthy. It is safe to give our heart to Him. He will speak the truth and protect our hearts and our lives from the lies and hatred the world spews out. He will purify it through the refiners fire and make us holy and pure. Don’t you want to give your heart to Jesus?”
Song List
1. Open the Eyes of My Heart
2. Happy All the Time
3. Lovely Lord
4. Here’s My Heart
5. Change My Heart / Refiners Fire
6. Take My Life

Worship audio – Worship powerpoint

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Not Enough Publications!

In an academic institution, a large part of progressing through a career is having enough publications to get to the next rung. It’s a battle I was aware of when I joined, but have not been motivated enough to fight well. Maybe I’m not equipped, maybe I’m not a battler, maybe I’m just plain lazy. “Not enough publications” is a yearly ordeal I hear every June as I settle into a stagnant life in my C grade quarters and I find myself unable to remove the Asst. in my designation. This is also an easy excuse for not being allotted a car park at work. But it hasn’t impacted on the joy factor in life thankfully. Only my overall impact factor on the academic world has been, tragically, close to zilch.

I’ve now started using “Not Enough Publications” as an excuse for everything to try and twist this academic disability in my favour. Here are some (possible) scenarios:

1. (At work): Doctor Sir, why can’t you discharge my child. He’s already 1.5 kg and gobbling milk through that NG tube.
After 15 minutes of explaining our discharge criteria, parents were adamant.
“I still can’t discharge the baby dear parents”.
“Why doctor ji”
“I don’t have enough publications”
(After a round of hugs and tears)
“Doctor, we’ll stay till you say he is fit for discharge”

2. At Radisson Beach Resort:
Me: “Could you upgrade our room sir”
Receptionist: “Are you a Club Member sir”
Me: “No sir. But I don’t have enough publications”
Him: “You can take the Royal Suite sir”

3. Auto guy: “80 RS sir”
I give him a 100.
“Do you have enough change sir”, he asks.
Me: “Not enough change. Not enough publications. Keep the 100”
Everyone is a winner.

4. “I won’t be able to help with music at church this Sunday”
“Why Benji”
“Not enough publications”

5. “I’ll skip dessert”
“Why honey”
“Not enough publications”

6. JJ: “Appa, could I have a new Lego set for my birthday, please?”
Me: “No JJ”
“Waaaaaaaah. But why Appa? I used manners”
“Appa has manners too, but not enough publications”

7. “Sir you are eligible for a lifetime free Platinum credit card sir”
Me: “That’s ok, I’ll skip this offer. Not enough publications”
“Sir, then you can have our titanium card with more benefits.”

8. “Benji, you don’t update your facebook status often. It’s been a loooong time”
“Yah machhan. Not enough publications”
Publish or Perish they told me. I know which way I’m headed. If you don’t see this diary updated in a month, say a silent prayer for me.

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Wilted….. Revived

I have a small balcony garden that has made it to my blog on a couple of occasions. Summers in Vellore are harsh and the plants don’t like it since the sn sun shines directly on this side of the building through most of the day. I usually water the plants in the morning before I go to work. However, there are days when I can’t and by evening a couple of them start to wilt and droop.

What surprises me is how they revive soon after I water them in the evening! I tried a time-lapse video over an hour or so and you can see how they perk up:

Now there are some downsides. By allowing it to wilt, I usually end up losing a little bit of the plant – a few leaves can never revive. Also if this happens too many times or if I skip a couple of days, I end up losing the whole plant. Well, this is something that I need to think of when I try to keep my life green and rich with Christ. Regular watering is needed and if I don’t do that I may need a revival of sorts!

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Nobody loves me like you do

Once a year the departments of OG, Neonatology and RMU get together to sing a special song at the hospital chapel for the Sunday evening service. Today was the chosen day and I must say it turned out to be quite a good time. We started the ball rolling quite late (Thursday afternoon). After hurriedly choosing Chris Tomlins “Nobody loves me like you”, we had the priceless task of coordinating practice. Try getting a group of doctors ranging from interns to Heads of Departments in the same room at the same time to practice the same song….it actually happened! As usual we discovered talent and enthusiasm and dedication. On Friday we threw in a cajon and recorder and some variations and we were good to go for Sunday. As expected more people landed than expected and after an eventful final practice which also had some Pepsi, Fanta and sandwiches thrown it, the final chapel service lacked nothing. The song was good, the introduction to the song was awesome and the message by Dr. Edwin was a blessing. It was a blessed one hour and we were all thankful.

And all this was right in the midst of a busy weekend on call. Seriously God…… Nobody Loves Me Like You!!

That’s a non-professional phone audio recording. Can you feel the love and the enthusiasm?

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MIGHTY – Leading Worship in Church

As we were struggling to find a worship leader for today, I decided on Saturday to finally volunteer even though I was a little unwell with a sore throat and cough. After committing myself for the task, I told God ‘I promise you God that this illness will not get in the way of me leading worship’. God replied, ‘That’s not your job Benji. Its my job to promise you that your sore throat and cough will not get in the way of worship at Church this Sunday’. Our MIGHTY God kept that promise and we could dwell on the mightiness of God through this time of worship. There is no-one like our God. He is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing He can’t do. Our God is greater than anything that can bring you down. He is mighty to save – with compassion. In response we sing our praises to the Almighty King of creation.
Song List
1. Who is like the Lord
2. My God is so big
3. Great and Mighty
4. Our God
5. Mighty to Save
6. Praise to the Lord

“MIGHTY” Worship session at Peniel Tabernacle

Footnote: Working out the logistics of the worship session was interesting. Besides the issue with my viral respiratory illness, I started with just one person on vocals and ended with 4 vocalists and a cajon. Definitely a Mighty God!

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The H terminal layover

The layover trilogy series has 3 parts and must be read in this order:
The K terminal layover
The D terminal layover
The H terminal layover

Experience is quite a teacher and I came up with a robust, but delicate plan (Oh! The paradox of it all). The starting point was Vellore and the destination was Kodaikanal. Rather than a lonely layover at the famed K terminal, I chose the more bustling Hosur junction – let’s call this the H terminal. I booked a combo which would give me a 1 hour break between buses. Neat!

I finished work early and called Bus 1 as there was a discrepancy in the boarding times – it was 1 hour earlier than I thought. No problems. I walked to the office with just a small satchel and waited. A little plastic chair and a hundred flies brought a smile to my face – dejavu? The bus was a comfortable 45 minutes late which suited me fine as it made my wait time about an hour at the H junction – maths is tricky but easy!

I had learnt from experience and when this bus stopped for dinner, I grabbed a chappati and a snack. At 10 PM it rumbled to a halt at H terminal and I could instantly make out a more vibrant, busy place. The walk to the boarding gate at H terminal was a mixed bag of roads and gutters. The office was on the ground level and once again the lone source of light in a dark building. It was a busy place though with more people. I plonked myself onto the plastic chair, whipped out my phone and experienced the joy of waiting again. As usual I had insects for company – they certainly acknowledged my existence. This time I had humans for company – we all swiped at our phones barely acknowledging our existence. And then I had a rat peek out from underneath the desk a dozen times – it was waiting for our existence to cease for its late night party time.  Dozens of buses swished high above me on the bypass flyover, vehicles crisscrossed in the night. Soon the big pink bus thundered in right in front of me and I entered like a pro bus-traveller. There were no dreams this time – just reality. No funny signs, no typos, no bag of air. My spotify one-month free premium subscription kept me company and finally reality dissolved into a dream.

My body rested and recovered as the mammoth bus slithered its way on the highway to the foothills in a few hours and then wove its way to the top through the dark of the night

…. and once again,  there was nothing as refreshing as entering home and feeling the warm embrace of family – followed by a breakfast at Tamara.

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Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done

Today was a positive, interesting time leading worship at Church.

The Gang

With summer vacation, it was difficult to find people to help. D offered to help – she had just started helping with the worship team a week ago. J had also texted saying she will practice and join on Sunday. K was a little unsure. After a little texting PM said she could do sound mixing. So I texted the final song list and was just doing a solo practice at home on Sunday evening, when GK called and said he’ll drop in at home for a brief run through and also catch J for the practice. We had a good practice. Somewhere in the middle, GK also managed to inspire GC to join on Sunday – she has never been part of the worship team, but was interested. So overall, things looked acceptable on Saturday evening.

The Car

With my car in Kodaikanal, getting to Church early was not easy. I sent a request to friends. CS and GC were willing to give his car if someone could take them. Finally SH lent his spare car and this meant I could leave really early to go to Bagayam and pick up PM and D and scoot to church- a trip that took over an hour! As CS and GC still had their car, they came in early to help too. Finally J and GK dropped in too. VM finished a night duty with a delivery and drove 20 KM to get to church on time. This meant PM could also help with vocals. You may need to read this paragraph multiple times to figure out how the jigsaw pieces fell into place together!!

The Worship time

I’ll requote from what I shared on our Church website.

“The Lords Prayer is probably the most often uttered prayer on this planet, be it as words or as song. I was listening to the song multiple times during a late night solo drive from Chennai to Vellore and I was gripped with the beautiful words in this prayer. Your kingdom come, Your will be done is such an intense and deep prayer. We need to open the eyes of our hearts to discover Gods will and surrender to His will. Almost paradoxically, we experience true freedom when we surrender to His will – freedom from the slavery of fear and the amazing experience of being a child of God. We can give Him all the power and the

glory and shout to the Lord. In closing today we pondered on the fact that when we surrender to His will, He will take care of us – an assurance that will help us make it through every trial, trouble and temptation!
It was lovely matching scripture to lyrics as I prepared for leading worship – the powerpoint has relevant Bible verses for each line of No Longer Slaves”
Song List
1. Come on and Celebrate
2. Open the eyes of my heart
3. No longer slaves
4. The Lords Prayer
5. Shout to the Lord
6.God will take care of you

Worship Audio – Worship Powerpoint

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The D terminal layover

The layover trilogy series has 3 parts and must be read in this order:
The K terminal layover
The D terminal layover
The H terminal layover

Dejavu? The return from Kodaikanal was different, yet so similar (Oh! The paradox of it all!) The plan was finalised a few hours before I left. The starting point was Kodaikanal and the destination was Vellore. The first leg was in a taxi and the second leg was a train. The journey had a stopover at a place called Dindigul – lets call this the D terminal. We planned it to be a 20 minute wait after I got off the taxi. It should be OK!

The ride down the hills was scenic and beautiful. We stopped for a little break and I grabbed some fresh tender coconut water on the roadside – perfect for a hot evening! As I turned into Dindigul, I tried to check the train running status and my shoulders slumped – 2 hours late!! With the temperature in the high 90s this was going to be bad. My heart leapt as I saw there was an Air Conditioned waiting room. It sank below my kidneys as I saw a 1.5 ton Voltas AC in a big room with dozens of people. The half degree drop in temperature inside was welcoming and I plonked myself into a metal chair and discovered the joy of staring at the wall with no bugs or insects for company – somehow I missed those buddies. They were a jolly lot! The occasional train rumbled low on the tracks, while people criss crossed all over the platforms. I didn’t doze. My lip corners turned up into a crooked smile as I read the sign on the wall – I wonder what another valuable was!

I crept out after more than an hour and discovered that the air temperature outside had dropped 3 degrees and it was effectively cooler than the AC waiting room. I shrugged it off and went to the cart for a snack. The bewildering variety of snacks and typos ended with me clutching a pack of air and some chips which set me back 20 Rs. Almost magically, my train was announced. No aerobridge, but there was an elevator on the platform which helped me get to my terminal – platform 1. The trained roared in lazily and I stepped in to the cool AC compartment. After another attempt by IRCTC to entertain me with a non-existent ladder, I swigged down some coke and lay down. Reality dissolved into dreams for a few hours and then the exercise of waking and checking my progress became obsessive as I finally reached my destination a full 4 hours late.

….. and let me tell you, there’s nothing as confusing as entering work and feeling the cold embrace of discharge summaries to be corrected!

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