For all those who have been waiting patiently for your copy of my latest book, Round Pizza In A Square Box, I am excited to announce that it is now available through Westbow Press. Click here to purchase your copy.
I do hope you all enjoy reading it. In the months that follow, I will be posting excerpts from each of its chapters as a little sneak peak inside the story.
“Round Pizza in a Square Box reads like a movie script--entertaining, but also insightful. This book is filled with principles that will motivate and inspire. Amitabh Singh has served the poor for many years and has committed his life to challenging others to do everything they can to serve those in need. His message is both timely and compelling.”
– Hal Donaldson
India is an ever-evolving country. While democracy inspires innumerable achievements in the arts, education, technology, and business, in rural and impoverished India, the gulf between the rich and poor grows increasingly wider. Amitabh Singh in Round Pizza in a Square Box shares a number of hard-learned lessons that have inspired him to over 25 years of service on behalf of India’s impoverished men, women and children. His message encourages even the most distant reader, showing that with the right mindset and a strong dose of compassion, they too can make an immeasurable difference in this world.
How should I respond when God tells me to do something? How can I be sure His promises are true? Will I look like a fool if I walk in faith and have nothing to show for it?
I have thought about these questions many times in my life, especially when God has told me to do something rather out of the box. In the Bible, out of the box commands are quite commonplace with God. Take, for example, God’s command to Noah that he build an ark. Incidentally, it took Noah around 100 years to build it, meaning he probably underwent one hundred years of ridicule from his friends and neighbors. Noah, why are you building an ark for a flood when there is no sign of rain?!
As I struggle through such faith-related issues, I find strength from Abraham’s walk with God. Before Abraham, there were great men like Adam and Noah. Yet, we find that it is starting with Abraham that God becomes more intimately known to a great multitude of people. Imagine how close Abraham must have been to his Maker for God to become known as the ‘God of Abraham.’
Genesis12:1-3 records God giving an important command to Abraham: “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
I wonder if it was easy for Abraham to pack his bags, leave his community, and begin walking towards a land about which he knew nothing. How easy would it be for you to leave your air-conditioned home, television programs, Internet access, favorite movies, and sports, and walk into the wilderness?
Abraham trusted God and obeyed His command. I consider this no small act of faith. Abraham was from the city of Ur in Babylonia. He was a city boy. Yet, he was willing to leave his place of comfort and assume a nomadic lifestyle. For the first several years of his journey, all Abraham had was a promise and nothing to show for it.
While we revere Abraham today as a man who received a great blessing from God, the truth is, he and his wife had to go through fire – a difficult test of faith – before they received what was promised. In Genesis 12:7, God said to Abraham, “To your offspring I will give this land.” The only problem with this promise was that, up to this point, Abraham and Sarah had been unable to produce any offspring.
Abraham was only human and so he tried to make the promise come true through his own hands. He decided to birth a son (Ishmael) through his maidservant Hagar. It was a mistake that would have profound implications.
Abraham experienced a great deal in his lifetime. As a source of tragedy, he saw the death and destruction of the city of Sodom. As a source of joy, he finally experienced the birth of his son Isaac through his wife Sarah.
But then came Abraham’s toughest test of all. God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. I am not even sure how Abraham gathered the courage to obey God in this regard. It was a test to his very limits.
The story has a satisfying ending. Just as Abraham was about to obey the command, God stopped him and provided another sacrifice. I love this conclusion as it daily reminds me that I serve a God who is merciful and kind.
Mount Moriah is where the near sacrifice of Isaac took place (Genesis 22:1-3). This is also where Solomon built the Temple of God (2 Chronicles 3:1-2) and where Jesus was crucified. The place was then called ‘Golgotha’. Today, it is popularly called the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Dome of The Rock, a famous Muslim site, currently sits on top of it.
I find it rather interesting that Abraham was neither a Jew nor an Arab, yet Jews look at Isaac and Arabs look at Ishmael as the beginning of their ancestries. The words of Genesis 12:7 have come true: “God said to Abraham, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’”
I am not sure if I will ever have as much faith as Abraham did. Yet I do know that when God tells me to do something, I must do it. His promises are true, and God continues to be merciful and kind to all of us. May we experience Him in the most wonderful ways that Abraham did.
I am jealous of the world’s first couple. While I adjust to moving into a three-room house after having lived in a four-room house for the past year, Adam and Eve enjoyed the entire Garden of Eden as their beautiful abode.
I am jealous of Adam and Eve as they did not have to spend a precious dime on rent, food, or clothing.
I am jealous because they seemed to have lived each day like it was the first day of their honeymoon. They were on a non-stop vacation and that too, in paradise. Only God knows how many such years they had in this wonderland between the second and third chapter of Genesis.
For Eve, her marriage was made in heaven, and Adam was her dream husband. No other woman or flirtatious thought could distract Adam from her. Obsolete were any feelings of insecurity. No matter how Eve looked in the morning, I bet she felt confident.
For Adam, Eve brought an end to his loneliness while introducing a new kind of happiness. He did not require a remote control with 100 channels for entertainment. He was content with his wife at their home in Eden, which means “delight.”
I can understand Adam’s temptation of the “apple.” I find my household sometimes tempted by the same – Apple iPods, iPads, iTunes, iPhone, Macbooks... These are the delights of our times! Yes, Adam faltered and that is only because Eve introduced him to an Apple store!
While I have some initial reasons to feel jealous of Adam and Eve, I eventually end up feeling more sad and sorry for them. They had so much but lost it all. Tragedy struck that which was meant to be an eternal honeymoon in the best of vacation destinations.
The story closes with Adam having to toil hard to meet some of his basic needs. Eve suffers too with great pain in childbirth. Years down the road, they both witness the death of their second son in a horrible family fight.
What do we do today when things go wrong and get ugly?
I like how Jeffrey Archer, the millionaire novelist and politicians put it after being freed from prison after a two year sentence for “perjury and perverting the course of justice”. He said, “But I certainly made mistakes, for which I regret, I think most human beings in their lifetime make mistakes, mine ended up in two years prison – two very remarkable years from which I learnt a lot.”
I do not feel jealous of Adam and Eve anymore. Instead, my prayer is a simple one borrowed from Philippians 3:13-14: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But 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.”
Over the last three weeks, I have felt jealous of Jesus’ apostles - all twelve of them. I have envied Moses, and I still can’t seem to get over King Solomon’s good fortune.
Today, John the Baptist is my sorry target.
The moment John entered this world, he was a blessed guy. For one, he was the cousin of Jesus. Can you imagine the attention this brought him?
When John desired to preach, he did not have to go to a Theological College. Forget learning Greek or Latin. The gift of ministry came knocking on his doorstep.
Picture the special camera moment when Jesus came to John, at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. If I were John standing at the Jordan River with Jesus by my side, this would be my big moment worth a television spot or four-color glossy finished brochure.
Oh John, you got it so easy as the cousin of Jesus. I am so jealous of you.
However, I forget in my moments of jealousy that John’s life ended early, beheaded by King Herod. Herod imprisoned John for standing against his divorce and remarriage to his brother’s wife.
While in prison, I can imagine the doubts that must have run through John’s mind. He was the cousin of Jesus, yet he sat in a cold, dark cell. Surely he knew Jesus’ power to save, as Luke 7:18-23 attests:
“Calling two of [his disciples], [John] sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
John never left his prison cell. Instead, his head found its way onto a silver platter, put on display at a royal party.
I think upon Jesus’ last word to John: “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus’ words are as much for me as they were for John. This is a sobering thought as I am reminded of some trial moments in my life when I doubted my loving Savior. Thank the Lord for his untiring forgiveness and promise to one day rescue me from the grave.
I no longer feel jealous of John. I am just blessed to know his cousin, Jesus.