Living Hope Church Camp 2019

Wow, what a camp this was! As I sit down to write this report I’m still flying in the excitement of the atmosphere of the camp.

As one of the ten team leaders, my wife and I got to interact with really wonderful people as we prepared for the skit on the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

The camp was held in a wonderful location called Sereniity resort in Lonavala.

Almost 200 people attended this three day adventure, where the theme was “You are part of the bigger picture”

The organising team worked really hard to ensure that all were accommodated and the schedule provided ample time for all to develop deep meaningful relationships with the Lord and one another.

We enjoyed a wonderful feast of both spiritual and physical food.

There were many games anda treasure hunt arranged by the four quartermasters.

The team that won the treasure huntfor the lost harp of David!

Each of the ten teams were given a parable which they had to enact without dialogues in five minutes. They could use background tracks and props.

The slots were very well presented on the entertainment night.

There was a morning trek too! This was to the nearby lake, a45 minute walk to the hills.

The Tungarli lake is a scenic place with clear water.

The resort also had place for games and a swimming pool.

Camp t-shirts and logos ensure that every team has its identity.

The worship team did a wonderful job and helped all of us to come into the presence of the Lord.

We had two resource persons who spoke on themes related to being part of the bigger picture.

There was a powerful move of the Holy SPIRIT and people were edified, challenged and blessed.

We were encouraged to be faithful, grow in the fear of the Lord, and in the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.

Many gave testimonies of their time at the camp and it was a huge blessing, the effects of which will be felt and seen in the years to come.

Advertisements

A widescreen voice-controlled home theatre for less than 400$?

Here is how I set up a voice-controlled Cinema experience, without any ads, for less than 400 dollars.

Before we start, there are certain prerequisites which I assume most people have at their home anyway:

Electricity, Wifi, A wall to project on and a smartphone.

If you are ready with the above, let’s start

First of all, get a Google Home Mini,

Image result for Google Home MiniI like it here. This should not cost you more than 60 $. There are other products available, like Amazon Alexa etc, but I personally prefer the Google home.

Next, I recommend you buy a projector.

Image result for projector

You can get good ones at unbelievable prices here. You can get good ones for less than 150 $. But if you already have a TV which can take HDMI input, then you could still continue to use that, but to experience true theatre, you know that size does matter!

Now to connect the two the best option is the Google Chromecast.

Image result for Google chrome cast.There are several options to buy it from, like the Google store or Flipkart, to name a few. Cost? less than 70 $! Ofcourse there are other options out there, but they may not work easily with the Google Home. 

So now we have the vital components ready, and we have spent hardly 280$. What do you do with the rest of the money you may well ask since I gave you a budget of 400 $.

Well, we will come to that!

But first things first…

So how do we set up this home theatre?

It is really simple.

Just two steps! Yeah, that’s right!

Step 1: Welcoming Mini to your home: Install the Google Home app on your phone, connect to the home wifi network, power on the Google Home Mini and add it to your Google Home app.  Here is help on how to do it. Give the mini a name.

Step 2: Setting up Chromecast on your projector:

Then set up Chromecast, which is also very easy to do.

For setting it up, power it on after you connect it to the HDMI port of the Projector, or TV, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Your Google Home app will help you to link all three together.

Now comes the extra bits: You can take a Netflix account or Amazon Prime.  Netflix will cost around 20$ per month. Amazon prime costs around 14 $ per year! The advantage here is that Netflix plays directly by voice on to the cast via Google Home. Just say, Ok Google, play Sherlock from Netflix and viola!

Of course, if you want to cast from your mobile device to the projector you do not even need the Google Mini, but that is not what your smartphone would ideally be doing for hours together!

Another vital bit of hardware you would now need are good speakers. Projectors have audio out which you can connect to your home theatre sound system, or to a good portable speaker.

Image result for Bose SoundLink Color II

I find the Bose SoundLink Color II  to produce extremely good audio.

It costs around a 100$ but that completes the 400$ target as I promised!

Image result for home projector set up

Here is to happy viewing! Do pass the popcorn 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is internet gaming really a disorder?

We all suspected that something was wrong when we saw kids (and even adults) spending endless hours on gaming consoles, screens or mobile phones.

Yesterday I heard this shocking news: Video game addict teenager ends life after mother takes away mobile phone in Nagpur – http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/nov/14/video-game-addict-teenager-ends-life-after-mother-takes-away-mobile-phone-in-nagpur-1898142.html

Well, there is something terribly wrong. And the medical community has just realised the deadly problem.

For the first time in 10 years, the World Health Organization has released a new edition of its International Classification of Diseases in July 2018. ICD-11 is the first to be fully electronic, and it has 55,000 codes compared with the 14,400 in ICD-10.
There’s a new chapter on traditional medicine as well as a new chapter on sexual
health. The diagnosis known as “gender incongruence” was moved from the mental
health category into the new sexual health chapter as a way of destigmatizing this
diagnosis.
Another change is the new diagnosis “gaming disorder.” It comes under the umbrella of addictive disorders. It’s defined as impaired control over digital or video gaming for at least a year, leading to adverse effects on personal health and overall function, [where] gaming takes priority over usual activities, like sleeping, eating, working, or socializing.

The WHO includes the following criteria for gaming disorder in the ICD-11

• impaired control over gaming;
• gaming taking precedence over other interests and daily activities;
• the continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative
consequences;
• gaming being severe enough to result in significant impairment in personal,
family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning; and
• evidence of problem behaviors of at least 12 months’ duration.
On this last point, there is “flexibility, given clinical data that suggest that this may occur more rapidly in some individuals.

Potenza argued that problematic gaming has a biological basis. He referred to brain
imaging data indicating that problematic gaming is associated with decreases in resting state functional connectivity in executive control networks and is linked to negative cognitive control performance on the Stroop Task.
Other studies have shown that a craving behavioral intervention not only decreased
Internet addiction scores and gaming times but also increased cue-induced insula
activation and decreased connectivity between the insula and some brain regions, such as the precuneus, that have been implicated in cravings.
Potenza and colleagues consequently proposed a theoretical model of Internet gaming disorder in which specific targets share similarities with those for substance use disorders and behavioral addictions, such as pathologic gambling.

Therefore, Weinstein turned to the criteria for the diagnosis of behavioral addiction set
out by Mark B. Griffiths, PhD, and colleagues, which focus on the following:
• Salience,
• Mood modification,
• Tolerance,
• Withdrawal,
• Adverse consequences, and
• Repeated attempts to quit, followed by relapse.
He said that salience means that the activity becomes the most important activity in
their life and dominates their thinking, feelings, and behavior.
Similarly, mood modification, which is the subjective experience that people report as a result of engaging in the activity, is seen with both disorders. Problem Internet users say that they feel aroused or enter into a “flow” whereby they lose a sense of time and place,
Tolerance, in which greater exposure is required to achieve the same effect, is also
found in both conditions, as is withdrawal. In Internet gaming disorder, withdrawal
includes anger, tension, and/or depression;
Weinstein said that, on the basis of brain imaging studies, the neural mechanisms that
underlie Internet gaming disorder appear similar to those seen in drug addiction.
These include structural changes related to gray matter volume in regions linked to
attention, motor coordination, executive function, and perception.
Internet gaming disorder is associated with lower white matter density in brain regions
linked to decision making, behavioral inhibition, and emotional regulation, as well as alterations in the ventral striatum. Video game playing is associated with dopamine
release at levels similar to those seen in drug abuse.
Internet gaming disorder is associated with depression, anxiety, attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and alcohol use, as well as personality disorders in
adolescents.
Science, Medical science does not have any answers, any solutions.
The best that they can come up with are some medicines.
What we feared has come true. Our kids are hopelessly addicted.

A recent study (November 2018) of over 40000 kids showed the effects of mobile use.

Children’s psychological well-being starts to deteriorate after an average 1 hour of screen viewing per day, according to a study of more than 40,000 children aged 2 to 1 years.
More hours of screen time are associated with lower well-being in ages 2 to 17.
High users show less curiosity, self-control, and emotional stability
more distractibility,
more difficulty making friends,
and being more difficult to care for.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335518301827

The word of God calls this addiction by another name, idolatry. When we turn to a created thing to give us something that only the living triune God can give us, it invariably destroys us.

Image result for idolatry

Yes, we want our idols to be removed, but we need to replace them with the real thing! Whatever we seek for in these games at our on the screen, seem to deliver it for some time but the price we end up paying is beyond imagination.

The only answer, I believe, is accepting the unconditional love of God, who in Christ the sinless man, died for the sin and shame of our sin., with the power of the Holy Spirit.

When God is on the throne of our hearts, all other things take their rightful place. The mobile and the internet can become powerful tools for achieving our God given potential and purpose, when we know where to keep them. All these inventions and things are great tools and slaves for us, but the moment they become our master, they will destroy us.

God bless.

The best investment I know of.

Investing and saving for the future is something we all want to do, and we are taught to do right from a small age. We call people wise when they are not short sighted but rather save for the long term, saving for the future when they are not likely to be earning.

So how far into the future should we be saving our treasures? And do we know a way to invest our treasure so that it is not destroyed.

As I write this, the share market in India is going through a slump. People are wondering where to invest and are not sure how the economy will turn.

Image result for investing

If you wish to know of the best way to invest your treasures, your wealth, for the long term, read on….[ The best investment consultants in the world will not be able to come up with something better that what I am going to share here.]

Laying up treasures for ourselves

Jesus Christ said do not lay up for ourselves treasures on earth.

In the Bible in the Gospel of Mathew, chapter 6 he presents us with a completely different way of investing!

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Serving money brings with it one free bonus, worry: Because money is impersonal, doesn’t satisfy our need for love and acceptance and relationships
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

[This is not what is advertised, rather one is told that life is all about these things]
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they? [This essential truth of the worth of human beings is not taught in schools, in fact they go to the opposite end here and say we are just llike the animals and birds]
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Mat 6:19-34 NIV)

Let these words sink in. They are profound and have influenced millions across the ages to see the world in a totally different way.

Now listen to what the Apostle Paul said “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
(1Ti 6:17-19 NIV)

Wow. God’s word clearly tells us what not to do and what to do.

What not to do:
Be arrogant
Put hope in wealth
What to do:
Put hope in God [who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment]
Do good
Be rich in good deeds
Be generous
Be willing to share

Ultimately investing in eternity is investing in relationships, firstly with the living and loving God who created you, and also with the people he places in your life. Hope you will do likewise.

Note: This will be truly possible only when you are  born again in the Spirit of the living God. Please do not try to put the cart before the horse. God bless!

Why am I created?

For a few, this question has no meaning, perhaps because they do not like to think they were created. The world and life has no meaning, no purpose outside of that they choose to give. Which I hope does not sound as self-centered or depressing as it looks.

For those who generally do not understand the impossibility of atoms and molecules getting together to form complex proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids, here is a video by the world renowned James M. Tour, who is an American synthetic organic chemist, specializing in nanotechnology. Tour is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, and Professor of Computer Science at Rice University in Houston, Texas, United States.

This video really amazed me. How casually is it taught in schools all over these days that life just began from some primordial soup! Utter nonsense, you will realize, after you have watched the video by this organic Chemist. It is a bit technical, but really worth it.

Image result for Why am I created?

The Bible teaches us that God is love in the community of Godhead from everlasting to everlasting. This love is radical, self-sacrificing, gracious, unmerited, everlasting etc., which we may not completely understand in our present lifetime to describe it well.

New Testament writers call this ‘Agape love’. God created everything out of this love for his glory with a purpose. (Isaiah 43:7) He created man in his image and to have dominion over all his creation and care for it. He charged them to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. (Gen1:28)

This is what it means to be human in God’s sight.

God, man, and the rest of creation were in perfect unity, peace, and complete flourishing in harmony with each other just like it is in the Godhead from the beginning. This is beautiful. This is Shalom as old testament prophets call it.

This shalom is God’s purpose for all creation.

Cornelius Plantinga explains shalom as “…the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfilment, and delight…Shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight — a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Saviour opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.” 

In shalom, we have an invitation to partner with God, to care for, and work the garden as his image bearers. (Gen 2:15)

This we call Cultural Mandate.

I wish Shalom for you, dear reader.

Fitness tracking

As a Medical Doctor who loves to stay healthy, I have  been exercising fairly regularly, or so I thought! To objectively document my moves I did try out four different wearable devices that were supposed to help give me the data I needed, [mainly my heart rate and the number of steps I walked]. Imagine my surprise when all of them turned our to be almost useless!

Heart rate tracking has to be 24 X 7 for it to be of any real use to a medical professional or even anybody who is seriously interested in monitoring their health. And most of the devices that claim to track your heart beat do so only when asked to or when you press a button! That probably explains their cheap prices too. Anything cheaper than 3000 Indian rupees or around 40 US $ most likely will be a waste of your money if you are looking for serious round the clock fitness tracking at the time of writing this.

So I did some serious research on the best wearable device for me and honed in on the one you see in this picture below!

 

 

This is a device that fits the bill perfectly for me.

Here are the plus points after over a week of constant use:

It is super comfortable to wear, so that you hardly notice it is there on your wrist.

It is water proof and shower proof

The charge easily lasts a week.

The heart rate monitoring works 24X7 and is very accurate

The app is also easy to use and gives quite detailed analysis of your day and week.

It even tells me how many stairs I have climbed and descended.

It tells me the amount and quality of my sleep.

It reminds me to move with a vibratory alert  if it detects that I have been sitting at one place for too long.

You can set your personal goals and see how you have performed daily and weekly etc.

You can even link to other apps that monitor your dietary intake.

Here are some of my reports as it looks on my phone app:

Screenshot_20180722-233150Screenshot_20180723-223556

 

I am glad to see that my results are quite good for my age! Bit at the same time I used to think that I exercise enough and take enough steps but this device was like a reality check! I realised that on the days I miss my club I was really not exercising or walking enough!

Screenshot_20180723-223624This shows that for most of the days in the past week I barely reached my own goals for steps taken! Point taken!

Thank you Garmin for this device, the Vivo HR and I would highly recommend it for anyone out there who would like to keep track of their health and activities. By the way they have a HR + which has GPS too, but as I did not need GPS tracking for my exercise I selected the HR.

Wishing you the best of health!

 

Passion meets Purpose

Whatever you are passionate about, you do. If you enjoy cave diving, it becomes your passion. You enjoy travel, it becomes your passion.

You talk about it, think about it, plan on how to do it….you understand it, tight?

What about purpose? People are born with an inbuilt need to find purpose in their lives. The eternal question that we all ask ourselves, why am I here in the first place?

And we all instinctively realise that true purpose is tied to something outside ourselves, to something greater that our self.

Why do I say that? Read on to find out.

A wise man said: Blessed are you, if you find your passion and your purpose meeting together, aligning and building up one another.

There are some professions where this happens more than others.

For example, those who are passionate about healing and find themselves in healthcare. They find purpose i their lives daily. How blessed are they indeed.

But you may ask, what about cave diving? What purpose would it serve?

Recently a few boys got trapped in a cave in Thailand and the whole world was watching how the rescue operations were underway. It was very risky. The cave was submerged, underground and the boys were hundreds of meters away from the accessible entrances.

The world’s best cave diver had this to say after the rescue mission

IMG-20180712-WA0035

 

Passion and Purpose. I hope you are passionate about your purpose in life. God bless!