Monday, December 31, 2007

The Shack

This is one book that genuinely going beyond the surface of Christian spirituality. It easily made in to my list of favorite books. Some of the conversations between Mack (the hero of the story) and God stirs up thoughts and challenges the norm of religion. It is healing, challenging, questioning, encouraging and refreshing. We have nothing to offer to God but He offers everything to us, His children. God is not necessarily a noun, but a verb - the great 'I AM'. Here are some snippets of the conversations between Mack and God (Papa, Jesus and Sarayu):

"My life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to 'be like Jesus', it means for your independence to be killed. I came to give you life, real life, my life. We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But we will never force that union on you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on our side."

"So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing."

"I have been talking to you for a long time, but today was the first time you could hear it, and all those other times weren't a waste, either. Like little cracks in the wall, one at a time, but woven together they prepared you for today. You have to take the time to prepare the soil if you want it to embrace the seed."

"Put simply, these are tools (religion) that many use to prop us their illusions of security and control. People are afraid of uncertainty, afraid of the future. These institutions, these structures and ideologies, are all a vain effort to create some sense of certainty and security where there isn't any. Systems cannot provide you security, only I can."

"Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors."

"Guilt will never help you find freedom in me. The best it can do is make you try harder to conform to some ethic on the outside. I am about the inside."

"Faith does not grow in the house of certainty."

"If I take away the consequences of people's choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is not love at all."

"It should be very freeing to know that you can offer us nothing, at least not anything that can add or take away from who we are..."

"Those who are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control."

"My words are alive and dynamic - full of life and possibility; your's are dead, full of law and fear and judgment. That is why you won't find the word responsibility in the Scriptures."

"And beyond that, because I have not expectations, you never disappoint me."

"Mack, I don't want to be the first among your list of values; I want to be the center of everything."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It is in the Bible!


A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning.

The wife said, 'You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee.'

The husband said, 'You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee.'

Wife replies, 'No, you should do it, and besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee.'

Husband replies, 'I can't believe that, show me.'

So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and showed him at the top of several pages,

That it indeed says........ .. 'HEBREWS'

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa myth

It seems that in Christianity there are several myths that we cling to for years and years as the kids cling to the Santa myth. One such myth is about God's free gift of forgiveness. Many are skeptical about the word 'free' when it comes to sales and marketing because most of the time there is a catch in that deal. But the question is , is that true in the issue of our free forgiveness through Christ Jesus? Here is an article from addresses this very issue:

When you were born you began constructing a "truth" screen over your mind. You filtered everything through this screen, rejecting anything that stuck in its web. You were super naļ¶„ and soon accepted the Santa Claus myth. You didn'tquestion how he and his reindeer could fly or how this round man could slide down chimneys and keep his suit clean including its white collar! Santa lives! Mom and dad said so.

In time, you became more sophisticated at screening. Your parents admitted they'd gone along with the Santa story for your enjoyment-that dad really was Santa. You reconstructed your truth screen and ricocheted Santa, his elves, and reindeer into outer space. Over the years you've done more reconstruction than the NYC Street Department.

There's a portion of your truth screen that I want to focus on-your "religious" screen. Just as your early belief in Santa affected your behavior, what you believe about Christianity will influence the way you live. You want to get it right.

Pretend you're a member of a first century church near Ephesus. The apostle, John, has written a circular letter (First John) that will be read to the congregation this morning. Certain influential men in your church are openly immoral, sleeping around, leering at the sisters, and recruiting others to join them. John is very concerned about these "early Gnostics" and believes they're lost. He contrasts the saved wheat against the lost tares thirty-one times in this brief letter! Aust your truth screen to accommodate this scene. Remember now, you've never heard of 1 Jn. 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," so remove your knowledge of that information from your screen.

Gnostics believed all physical matter was evil; therefore Christ couldn't have had a body, thus making the crucifixion a myth. In their minds, Christ was not a human being, but a phantom. They also believed it was not sinful, but normal to practice pious religion and immorality simultaneously! Gnostics believed they had no sin; they were not born again.

The pastor begins to read. (You're "listening" with the mindset that John is contrasting two groups-born-again folks vs. Gnostics. I've used footnotes to identify the players whom I believe his pronouns represent. Since Gnostics believed Christ had no body, John, an eyewitness, begins by establishing that Jesus was both divine and human.)

1 John 1 (It's a good idea to read the footnotes before you go on!)

(1) "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we1 have seen with our1 eyes, what we1 beheld and our1 hands handled, concerning the Word of Life (Jesus)
(2) and the life (Jesus) was manifested, and we1 have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you4 the eternal life (Jesus), which was with the Father and was manifested to us1.
(3) what we1 have seen and heard we1 proclaim to you2 also, that you2 also may have fellowship with us4 ; and indeed our4 fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
(4) And these things we1 write, so that our4 joy may be made complete.
(5) And this is the message we1 have heard from Him and announce to you2 that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
(6) If we2 say that we2 have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we2 lie and do not practice the truth;
(7) but if we4 walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we4 have fellowship with one another3, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us4 from all sin.
(8) If we2 say that we2 have no sin, we2 are deceiving ourselves2, and the truth is not in us2.
(9) If we2 confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us2 our sins and to cleanse us2 from all unrighteousness.
(10) If we2 say that we2 have not sinned, we2 make Him a liar, and His word is not in us2."

John says these early Gnostics needed to be saved and 1 Jn. 1:9 tells them how! Today, however, well-meaning mentors mistakenly teach that 1 Jn. 1:9 tells Christians how to deal with "unforgiven" sin. Unforgiven sin? Gang, the only folks with unforgiven sin are the non-believers! New Creations are forgiven of all sins. Look what John says thirteen verses later in the same letter, "I am writing to you4, little children, because your4 sins are forgiven you4 for His name's sake" (2:12). New Creatures' sins are forgiven!

Caution: Never evaluate teaching via your emotions. They can't even think! Trust only the Holy Spirit, not this writer or religious tradition. Our forgiveness benefits two parties, not one. A lover can best demonstrate the magnitude of his love via the objects of his affection: the more unworthy the object, the more glorious the lover. God demonstrated His unparalleled love by sacrificing Jesus to forgive a bunch of hammerheads. We, on the other hand, needed God's forgiveness so we could gratefully snuggle up to Him in return. However, it's more complex than that. Since God is not a time restricted Being, He sees forever into what we time-critters call "the future" as well as what we call "the past." Time is a meaningless concept to Him. While we see our sins one by one, to God they're simultaneous. You could say human beings march in the time parade, while God hovers over it like a helicopter. 2 Pet. 3: 8 says, "…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 1,000 = 1 = 1,000? What kind of math is that? It's God's math! Our sins are all present tense to God. God washed away ALL your sins in Jesus' blood! They're not covered; they're gone!

Without total forgiveness, God would constantly view our sins. He could never fellowship with us, nor could He receive us into His holy presence, let alone indwell us, were we not holy through our crucifixion and rebirth in Christ. "For the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are" (1 Cor. 3:17). We are holy, forgiven saints or an intimate relationship with God would be impossible! God calls you a saint (holy) in sixty-three post-cross verses! Will you bounce all sixty-three off your religious-tradition screen?

For a born-again person to ask God to forgive and cleanse him from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9) is unbelief. We saints were "forgiven (Eph. 4:32) and cleansed from all unrighteousness" (1 Cor. 1:30) at salvation. Asking for forgiveness is similar to repeatedly asking Jesus to save you or continuing to ask your spouse to marry you. God must agonize when a born-again person repeatedly exhorts Him to "be faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness," as if He had failed to accomplish this through Jesus! Our obligation is to believe Him.

Therefore, what should we do when we've sinned? I believe quickly acknowledging our sin to God keeps us spiritually honed. Failing to do so tempts us to become dull, casual or even indifferent about our sin. (Hey, we say we're sorry when we bump someone on the sidewalk, for heaven's sake!) Then thank God that He forgave us of all our sins at salvation and snuggle into His lap again. Such grace, dear relative, motivates us to holy living. What a God!


1 John
2 Early Gnostics
3 Father, Son, Holy Spirit and saints
4 saints

Jesus, Pastor and Santa

Source :

Monday, December 17, 2007

What you believe?

Are you entangled or confused by the different type of gospels preached by different denominations?
Does the ‘what we believe’ page on the website of your denomination take precedence in your life than the Bible itself to theologize your belief system?
Are you tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming?

I would like to bring your attention to what the Bible says on this:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Gal 1:8)

Did you notice the word gospel there? What is this ‘gospel’? There is only one ‘gospel’ preached by the Apostles of Christ who were appointed by God Himself.
Again I say, there is only one gospel, which is the gospel of Christ – that is the unconditional love and grace of God reached out to us through Christ Jesus (His death, burial and resurrection).

It is not about the observances of any ‘law’. It is not about Christian duties. It is not about the things you ‘do’ to please God. There is only one person who has really pleased God, that is Christ himself through his sacrificial death on cross once and for all and God is pleased in us when we place our faith in whom He has well pleased.

We receive the Spirit by faith (Gal 3:2). In the same way we live our life by faith.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him (Col 2:6).

How did we receive Him? How do we live in Him?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kids and Legalism

I admit that I do not have all the insight into this issue but I thought I would address few things I have observed in the past on this topic – Injecting legalism in kids.
Many parents (among all the religions) struggle to put their kids in to the religious system they belong to. I think one reason they do this is because they think religion give their kids a moral basis for their character (I think most religious people care only about morality).
Christians are no exception as we can see most Christian parents want their kids to grow up in the denomination they belong to. I don’t blame them but what bothers me is that the amount of legalism they inject in to these little ones instead of telling them how much Jesus loves them no matter how they perform in their bible memorization, songs and prayers.

There are many who put lot of pressure on little kids to be religious such as participating in church activities, learning rituals, prayers, and bible versus etc.

The church I have been a part for while, there was even a competition among parents about whose kids are going to mug up and recite more bible versus. I admire their genuine desire to teach the 'Christian' way.
But I suspect if it is making a negative impact on the kids about the whole concept of religion and possibly hindering them to come to the reality of Christ’s love in the future. Parents try to bring even 3 year olds to the front of the congregation and ‘show off’ how much scripture memorization their kids can do. They ‘train’ little kids to sit through the boring sermons and brag about how disciplined their kids are. Sometime you get that look from many ‘proud’ parents while struggling to settle down your fuzzy one year old during the service. You even get many sympathetic advices on how you can teach your kids the ‘Christian’ way.

I have heard the pastor commending in public about kids who can recite many verses, say nice prayers, act ‘disciplined’ and kind of pricking on the parents who have less disciplined, less behaved kids.

I am looking forward for your comments on this. I am not an expert on child psychology but I think what we should be doing is to tell them in simple terms how Jesus loves them and probably show them the beauty and wonder of God’s wonderful creations around us instead of raising them arrogant, legalistic, religious Pharisees.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Water is a symbol of cleansing (physical and religious). Almost all of the religions of the world has some sort of washing as a part of their rituals. Judaism was no exception as they had many ceremonial washings as part of the Jewish culture. Christianity is no exception as we have the water baptism whether it is sprinkling or immersion.

As Jesus addressed (even violated) many religious rituals, He did not leave the 'washings' away.

38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. (Luke 11)

He did not wash before the meal(a Jewish custom) because He wanted to address the truth that the 'outward' washing means nothing if the 'inward' washing hasn't been taken place.

The inward washing of a man is done with the blood of the Lamb of God when he places his trust on Jesus. Once he is washed, his sinful nature is washed away. He is a new creation, a new self, child of the Almighty God.

This is the washing that God cares for. Whether we are outwardly washed (E.G baptism) or not means nothing if the inward washing hasn't been taken place.

So many people get hung up on baptism, communion etc where they miss the real thing, even those who sing - What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A short vacation.

It is hard to believe that a 15 days vacation was a short one!
But when it includes 38+ hours of flight journey, a wedding, reception, visiting relatives on both sides, kids being sick and staying in the hospital, it is really short!
My 17 months old son couldn’t really cope with a sudden change in temperature (From 35 degrees to 96 degrees in 24 hours). I wouldn't blame him!
While traveling from one side of the globe to the other squeezing in the economy class seat, I was dreaming about the comfort of my bedroom all the way.
Though still in jet lag (waking up at 3.00 in the morning), I am glad I am back!
All I want to say is that, though I didn’t have good sermons, bible study, blogging, churching, the peace of Christ was upon me all the time! All the 15 days while going through many difficult times, I knew I was a child of God.
I didn’t feel guilty for not praying, for not reading bible, for not churching. Somewhere deep inside me I knew that I was loved unconditionally!
Thank You, Jesus!