Thursday, December 21, 2006

Majoring in majors and minoring in minors

Up until the time God opened my heart to see the riches of His grace, I used to read bible to find "rules" to implement in my life. In other words, I was using bible as a "rule book".

how to behave? how to talk? how to dress? how to give? how to love? how to serve? how to please? how to pray? how to worship? how to eat? how to fast? how to tithe? how to fellowship? etc. All "how to"' s you can think of.

Bob George, in his "Growing in Grace" says, we read any other book to know the "content". But we read bible to know the "author". There is a great difference!

There are "major" things in the bible, there are "minor" things. And it's easy to get in to the trap of "majoring in minors and minoring in majors". The major thing, the very core of bible is nothing else but just one person, Jesus!

I can see many christians majoring in the "minors" like gifts, baptism, miracles etc. I am not saying we should ignore these. But, there is a danger when we compromise the majors and get in to majoring the minors.

What is the danger?

Gifts do not set us free, miracles do not set us free, water baptism do not set us free, tithing do not set us free, "dress code" do not set us free, service do not set us free.

But the "truth" sets us FREE!

Jesus said, He is the Truth.

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)

The truth, wisdom, knowledge, all the treasures are hidden in Him.

that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

And the best way to get know Jesus is through His Word, there by finding the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is a thrill! The words of Bible makes more sense to me when I see them from the angle of "Grace". It gives me a "bird's eye view" of the Bible.

Lets focus on majoring in majors instead of majoring in minors!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fear OR Love?

The biggest difference I see about being under law and being under grace is same as difference between fear and love.

The message of law is condemnation but the message of grace is love.

1 John 4:7-21 talks about God's love (agape love or unconditional love)

18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

When Christ gives us freedom from law, we step into love from fear. "fear involves punishment" - law says if I break it I will be punished. Grace says God loves and accepts us unconditionally, regardless of how we behave!

Does this mean that we can live any way we want? NO!

19We love, because He first loved us.

When we realize the love of God, we will love Him back. He proved His love by dying on the cross. We prove our love by walking according to the Spirit who dwells in us, by abiding in Him, by allowing Him to live His life through us.

Romans 8:15 says, For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

Verse 16: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

Verse17: and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

We are adopted as sons and daughters.

A slave serves his master out of fear; a child of God serves God (Father) out of love.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:7)

Jesus said "Love your neighbor as yourself". This is an impossibility with law. But this is a possibility when God's love being expressed through us.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"I in you, you in Me!"

Jesus used many real life examples and parables to teach us great spiritual truths. The illustration of vine and branches is one of them (John 15:1-11). Here Jesus is the vine and believers are branches. Branch cannot "produce" fruit. Branch is like a "fruit bearer" or "fruit hanger". It uses the nutrition from the vine and "express" the fruits vine produces in them.

As a Christian I cannot produce "fruits" (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control - Gal 5:22-23) but He CAN!

All I need to do is "abide" and "express". In this case Christian life is not a "burden" as it is for many people. It is NOT me who lives, but Christ lives in me and through me!

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." - Gal 2:20

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. - 1 John 4:15

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:4

The mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. - Col 1:26-27

What a relief! I have "tried" to live my Christian life by myself and I have FAILED. The more I tried, the more I failed.

I tried to put lot of rules (do's and don'ts ), disciplines around it, it worked for a little while then became a burden. These "rules" included all the good things like "separating time for prayer", "systematic bible study", "quite time with God"... Hey! nothing wrong with any of these! But it was "my" effort, instead of allowing Christ to live His life through me!

Then He said, STOP implementing your rules and walk according to the Spirit who dwells in you.

But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.- Rom 7:6

Christ who dwells in me in the person of Holy Spirit can produce much fruit.

When I was legalistic (trying to produce fruits by observing rules/laws), Gal 5:22-23 was only a "theory" to me! I thought this can happen in my life only when I get to heaven, especially "patience"!.

Instead of committing and re-committing what I needed was Surrender.

When I did that it is just amazing!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Favorite quotes...

  • ‎‎"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Mahatma Gandhi
  • "Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves." William Hazlitt
  • "The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life... and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life." - William Faulkner
  • "I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it's not the answer." -Jim Carrey
  • if I need to apologize for misrepresenting God's love I'd rather apologize for overstating His love than for understating it. ~ Steve McVey
  • “While God waits for His temple to be built of love, men bring stones.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore
  • "Once you are real, you can't be ugly." - from the 1922 children's classic, The Velveteen Rabbitby Margery Williams.
  • Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don't numb themselves to really living. ~ Ann Voskamp
  • "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
  • "People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within." - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
  • Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - John Eldredge
  • "The glory of God is man fully alive" - Saint Iraneus
  • "If we just had more revelation of what we already have, there would be far less prayers and far more praise." - Watchmen Nee
  • You don't have to do your best for God's approval; you just get to celebrate what Jesus finished - Jamie Weeks
  • It won't be a question of "What did you do for Jesus?" on judgment day, but rather, "What did you believe Jesus did for you?" - Mathew Campbell
  • When a few meetings a week at a set time in a set place become the focal point of our identity we have become zombies in our mindset -Jamie Weeks
  • Jesus didn't leave us a 'system', He left us a Spirit - Wayne Jacobson
  • "We are not called to do witnessing; we are called to be witnesses." - Paul Anderson-Walsh
  • "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Theodor Seuss Geisel
  • "God is an extremist." - Rob Rufus
  • I am convinced that real community flows out of right relationship with God and not that right relationship with God flows out of right community. - Wayne Jacobsen
  • "Not forgiving is like swallowing rat poison and waiting for the rat to die." - Anne Lamott
  • "The turning point in our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is." - Patrick Morley
  • "Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic." - Dave Barry
  • "Expectations are resentment waiting to happen." - Anne Lamott
  • To be a Christian doesn't mean to be strong and dedicated, but weak and vulnerable. - Matthew Daelon
  • I don't have to have all the right answers; I am IN TRUTH. - Jamie Weeks
  • "Uniformity gives us the illusion of 'church unity', when all it does is produce masses of cyborg Christians who have no mind of their own." - Jim Robbins
  • We have churches in America where members are being kept, even unintentionally, in their spiritual diapers with a bottle in their mouths - not knowing enough to challenge assumptions from the pulpit. - Jim Robbins
  • "Church is not a theatre with a script." - Frank Viola
  • "If in our hearts we really don't believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross." - Brennan Manning
  • "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." - Corrie Ten Boom
  • “The first reaction to truth is hatred” - Tertullian
  • “Never assume the obvious is true.” - Tertullian
  • What the law demands from us, grace promises and performs for us. - Andrew Murray
  • "A ship in port is safe. But that’s not what ships are built for." - Grace Murray Hopper
  • To so many people, the Lord is in danger of being no more than a patron of our systematic theology instead of the Christ who is our life. - Alan Redpath
  • "The shepherd didn't go to the hills to find the sheep because it was bleating pitifully. He went because it was valuable." -Malcolm Smith
  • "Church is a reality, not an activity" - Wayne Jacobsen
  • Grace isn't a license to sin; it's a license from sin. - Joseph Prince
  • Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. - Gandhi
  • "We will always be conformed to the image of who we think God is" - Darin Hufford
  • When I get honest, I admit that I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and I get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and still play games. - Brennan Manning
  • A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God. - Thomas Merton
  • "An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others." - A.W. Tozer
  • Being spiritual, in my opinion, is when an individual embraces every facet of their humanity with no apologies, knowing well that their shortcomings are not evidence of God's absence but rather, evidence of life. - Darrin Hufford
  • Peace and contentment is not a point in life where you no longer experience pain and discomfort. It's the point when you understand that you will experience pain and discomfort in this life and when you do, you know He is with you and nothing's wrong. - Darrin Hufford
  • "We're not employees [of God]. We're sons and daughters. Quit living like an employee." - Matthew Daelon
  • "When you get so tired that you realize you cannot generate righteousness, come on back and I'll tell you about a gift." - Jeff VanVonderen
  • "Jesus did not just cancel out the curse of the law for you, Jesus canceled out the blessing of the law for you. You're free from performance. You don't get blessed doing it and you don't get blessed not doing it." - Mike Williams
  • The goal of the Christian life is not that you and I would try to act like God but that God would act like Himself in and through our own lives by faith. - Frank Friedman
  • God cannot be conjured up. - Darrin Hufford
  • "It is the consciousness of the threefold joy of the Lord, His joy in ransoming us, His joy in dwelling within us as our Saviour and Power for fruitbearing and His joy in possessing us, as His Bride and His delight; it is the consciousness of this joy which is our real strength. Our joy in Him may be a fluctuating thing: His joy in us knows no change." - J. Hudson Taylor
  • "Spirituality isn't about being finished and perfect; spirituality is about trusting God in our unfinishedness." - Michael Yaconelli (Messy Spirituality)
  • "What landed Jesus on the cross was the preposterous idea that common, ordinary, broken, screwed-up people could be godly." - Michael Yaconelli (Messy Spirituality)
  • "How unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us; no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose out past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we knew him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us." - A. W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy)
  • "Nothing makes people in the church more angry than grace. It's ironic: we stumble into a party we weren't invited to and find the uninvited standing at the door making sure no other uninviteds get in." - Michael Yaconelli (Messy Spirituality)
  • "For God so loved the world, that whosoever believes in him will, from that point on, be considered weired by the rest of the world, which means the church should be more like a zoo than a tomb of identical mummies." - Michael Yaconelli (Messy Spirituality)
  • "The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. She has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes, that she has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our songs, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." - Robert Capon
  • "Spiritual growth thrives in the midst of our problems, not in their absence. Spiritual growth occurs in the trenches of life, not in the classroom." - Michael Yaconelli (Messy Spirituality)
  • "All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us." - Eugene Peterson (A long obedience in the same direction)
  • Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. ...I do not ask to see the reason for it all: I ask only to share the wonder of it all. - Joshua Abraham Heschel
  • "If anyone could have gained heaven as a monk, then I would indeed have been among them." - Martin Luther
  • “The North American Church is at a critical juncture. The gospel of grace is being confused and compromised by silence, seduction, and outright subversion. The vitality of the faith is being jeopardized. The lying slogans of the fixers who carry religion like a sword of judgment pile up with impunity. Let ragamuffins everywhere gather as a confessing Church to cry out in protest. Revoke the licenses of religious leaders who falsify the idea of God. Sentence them to three years in solitude with the Bible as their only companion.” - Brennan Manning
  • May all your expectations be frustrated, May all your plans be thwarted, May all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the paralysis and poverty of a child, and sing and dance in the compassion of God who is Father, Son and Spirit, Amen and Amen. - Brennan Manning
  • "Everything--great, small, important, unimportant, distant, and near--has its place, its meaning, and its value. Through union with Him...nothing is wasted, nothing is missing. There is never a moment that does not carry eternal significance--no action that is sterile, no love that lacks fruition, and no prayer that is unheard." - Brennan Manning
  • "My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it." - Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel)
  • The temptation of the age is to look good without being good. - Brennan Manning
  • Men do not differ much about what things they call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable. - G. K. Chesterton
  • Jesus reserved his hardest words for the hidden sins of hypocrisy, pride, greed and legalism. - Philip Yancey
  • How else but through a broken heart may Lord Christ enter in? - Oscar Wilde
  • Faith, I now see, is "the substance of things hoped for" and not mere shadow. It is not less than sight, but more. Sight only shows the outward forms of things; faith gives the substance. You can rest on substance; you can feed on substance. - Hudson Taylor
  • Whether you are having a "good day" behaviorally or a "bad day" behaviorally, your right standing with God is unaffected. - John Moneypenny
  • I've come to see that grace isn't so much about me having victory in every little area of my life as it is about me resting and being content whether or not I see and experience any specific amount of growth or perfection in my outward expression of the life of Christ.- Joel Brueseke
  • Faith looks at our righteous behavior and deeds (things seen) and knows that they add nothing to our righteousness before God. But faith also looks at our unrighteous behavior and deeds (things seen) and knows that they lose nothing of our righteousness before Him. - John Moneypenny
  • By the supernatural miracle of God's grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, not because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. - Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)
  • Faith will become vision, hope will become possession, but the love of Jesus Christ that is stronger than death endures forever. In the end, it is the only thing you can hang onto. - Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel)
  • "The key to living a successful Christian life is failing at being a Christian." - Paul-Anderson Walsh
  • For me, everything is about Jesus and Father and the Holy Spirit, and relationships, and life is an adventure of faith lived one day at a time. Any aspirations, visions and dreams died a long time ago and I have absolutely no interest in resurrecting them (they would stink by now anyway). I have finally figured out that I have nothing to lose by living a life of faith. I know more joy every minute of every day than seems appropriate, but I love the wastefulness of my Father’s grace and presence. For me, everything in my life that matters, is perfect! - William P. Young (Auther of 'The Shack')
  • We're not out to lead people from one side of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to the other side of the SAME tree! Salvation isn't a matter of bad people becoming good people. It's a matter of dead people becoming alive! - Joel Brueseke
  • "I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some kind of pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don't want to be morally excellent, but my faith isn't in the idea that I'm more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit." - Rich Mullins
  • For godliness is not the consequence of your capacity to imitate God, but the consequence of His capacity to reproduce Himself in you; not self-righteousness, but Christ-righteousness; the righteousness which is by faith - Major W. Ian Thomas (The Mystery of Godliness)
  • The Law shuts the mouth of the very best of men, Grace opens the mouth of the very worst of men. - Paul-Anderson Walsh
  • "No man knows how bad he is, until he tries very hard to be good." - C.S Lewis
  • "The sad truth is that most Christians spend their entire lives trying to score points with Someone who is not keeping score." - Wayne Jacobsen
  • “The kingdom of God is not going to arrive on Air Force One.” - Cal Thomas
  • "Faith is seeing the invisible, but not the nonexistent." - A.W. Tozer
  • "Sometimes when I'm faced with an unbeliever, an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve, and when we finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there's a cook." - Ronald Reagan
  • The authority of Scripture is greater than the comprehension of the whole of man's reason. - Martin Luther
  • Christianity began in Palestine as a relationship, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, went to Rome and became an institution, moved to Europe and became a culture, finally it came to America and became an enterprise." - Richard Halverson
  • The underlying foundation of all religion is performance – whether it’s a tribal dance around a campfire to satisfy the fire god, or a dead religious activity performed week after week by an evangelical Christian with the intent of impressing his God. It’s all religious performance, and God isn’t impressed by our performance. What impresses Him is faith.- Steve McVey
  • Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. - C.S. Lewis
  • Righteousness (a right standing of total acceptability before God) is a gift. You don't work for it. You don't earn it. You don't deserve it. Like any gift, all you can do is accept it or reject it. And once you have it, it's yours. - Bob George (Classic Christianity)
  • Jesus Christ did not just come to show us the way; He is the way. He did not just teach us some truth: He is the truth. He did not just leave us a manual to live by. He is our life. - Bob George (Growing in Grace)
  • "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." - C.S Lewis (Mere Christianity)
  • There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian! - Major W. Ian Thomas (Foreword of Classic Christianity)
  • A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us." - C. S Lewis (Mere Christianity)