Monday, December 29, 2008

My Christmas confessions

After many days of too much food, too much wine, too much toys, too much running back and forth to the toy store, too much confusion about what to buy for my wife, too much exhausting driving on the snow, mental turmoil about confusion on gifts and cards for different people, running back to the toy store to return the toys which the kids didn't like or wasn't doing what it was supposed to do as per the claims on its cover, I am ready to take a deep breath and do a reality check.

Both my wife and I working on full time jobs, with 2 little kids to take care of, as we entered the month of December, I dreamt about the upcoming Christmas holidays as a time to slow down, relax and possibly catch up some of my reading. Unfortunately the reality was the opposite. Now the Christmas is over and I have no energy left to spare and feeling drained emotionally and spiritually. And now I am hoping to recuperate during the two days off for the New Year!

When I went for shopping, seeing crowded shoppers frantically running around the shops looking for gifts, I didn't think this country was in a recession. I found that the commercialization of this holiday is a huge success. I am also a victim of it. I feel trapped.

After all the hectic days, I am wondering out loud, where was Christ in all the busyness? I seldom thought about Him. I was worried about a whole lot of things that I didn't have time to think about Jesus's love. But it's true that He was still loving me while I wasn't even aware of it.

It is one thing that it brought joy to my heart when I saw the excitement in the eyes of kids when they opened the gifts, but it's another thing that I conveniently forgot about the many parents around the world who can't even afford food to keep their children alive. I feel that I live in abundance and the multiple choices around me often confuses me - the options to chose food, drink, dress, toys etc. I guess the people who have no much choices have little or no confusion in their life.

I feel that Christmas brings anxiety and tension to many people instead of joy, peace and love. Many families and individuals are worried that they have no enough money to afford gifts. We have come so far that the 'gift' is an obligation now. We almost forgot the definition of 'gift' itself. We no longer like to receive freely, we want to 'pay back' as soon as possible.

I didn't really enjoy Christmas because anything which wouldn't let me slow down and contemplate on the issues of life and love Christ has offered to us, it's not an enjoyment. Instead, I was drifted away. I gave myself up for pleasing people in an obligatory way.

There were lot of things which I had been setting aside to do during these holidays (such as burning some home videos to DVDs). Needless to say that they are still undone.

On the top of all these, now I realize that it would take at least an year to lose the extra pounds I have gained from over eating during these few days!

I didn't enjoy the snow, instead I cursed it because it tried to slow me down. I don't like anything which slows me down when I have so much things to 'do'.

Is it time to think outside the normal craziness of Christmas? May be doing it in a different, 'out of the norm' way? May be doing nothing but thinking about what Christmas really means? May be setting aside the obligatory, forced, 'feel trapped' kind of celebrations and just love one needy person?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Good news of great joy for ALL people...

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. - Luke 2:8-11

Celebrating with you the birth of Christ, our Lord and Savior who indeed brought great joy to us. Merry Christmas to all my brothers and sisters in Christ...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The school crisis!

My wife and I still go back and forth on the issue of whether we should send our kids to public or private school. When they were babies we always thought that we would send them to only a private school, preferably a Christian School. My daughter is going to be 5 years in next June and we are currently in the mode of researching various schools. At some point, economically thinking, I thought public school would be fine. Our school district isn’t bad as well. Then as I thought more about it, I kind of backed off a bit; because I didn’t want my kids to be taught that we are evolved from Monkeys!

Anyways long story short, yesterday I took some time to research some Christian schools near by. One of my search criterion was a school without a denomination affiliation. It boiled down to just one school finally which is about 6 miles away from home. I was excited about everything I read in their website and we were going to see if we can pay a visit to see the facility and meet the staff.

To my surprise, my wife, as she read further on their website today, found out the below requirement:

[Name of the school] exists as an aid to Christian parents in their God-given responsibility of training their children in the way of the Lord. To this end, the school requires that parents be confessing Christians to assure consistent mutual goals between family and school. Parents and students will be required to sign a parent-student agreement that indicates agreement with the doctrinal statement and promises to maintain a Christian lifestyle in the home. In addition, a recommendation form from the family’s pastor is also required.

The parents must support the policies of the school. This is most important in teaching the Biblical principles the school is founded upon, but also in the area of discipline, schoolwork, and parent/teacher support.


I am faced with a huge challenge now: I have no family pastor and I don't know how to make one!

I am not a member of any church organization.
I have no family pastor.
I am not a church-goer.
I am not religious.
I don't tithe.
I don't do 'ministry'.
I am not part of a 'small group'.
I don't follow a set of 'laws'.


Jesus loves me.
He gave His life for me.
I have the Spirit of God living in me.
I am a child of the Most High.
I am a citizen of heaven.
I am righteous and holy in Christ.
I have eternal life.
I am fully forgiven.
I am placed in the Body of Christ (Church) by Him.
I am clothed with Christ.
Jesus is my Shepperd, Bridegroom and Friend.
I am complete in Him.
And, I can't prove any of these!

Can I still be considered as a Christian? Would they accept me as a Christian? Who can give me a certificate of recommendation?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The pressure to save God's face.

When something unusual such as a sickness or a financial struggle hits us, my wife says, she feel hesitant to express her true feelings to others, especially to those who think that we are a kind of 'weird' Christians. She, in a funny way said, she feel pressured to save God's face. In other words, she don't want to face people's "where is your faithful God?" question. I too struggle with this. I am afraid to be vulnerable and real with those who really don't know where I stand in my spiritual life; to those who don't know that I too have struggles.

Our son (2.5 yrs old) has Vitiligo and it has become very visible and noticeable on his face in past few months. People have started asking about it. Medical Science considers this as a condition passed through hereditary but as far as we know there isn't anyone in our family history who had this disease. So, we don't know why our son. Humans haven't discovered any real cure for this disease. This is a very unique illness which can have a very difficult emotional and psychological impact on the patient as well as on his/her family. We are not afraid of this and we are doing everything we can in terms of finding alternative medicines etc and hoping and praying that God would heal him. But the healing hasn't happened yet, in the mean time we are faced with questions. I can foresee some questions coming in our way challenging our faith even.

My wife says, she is afraid to express her concerns about this to someone because what if they think that she has no hope and faith? How can she send a paradoxical message that she has hope in Jesus but at the same time worried about her son? Who would buy such a fragile hope? Though I haven't really put my thoughts into words like her, I too kind of feel the same way. Most of our relatives are very very religious but have no clue what Jesus, grace or faith means to us, and have a notion about us that we are deceived in our spiritual life by removing ourselves from the traditional family religions (Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy). It wouldn't surprise me if they even blame our leaving from the church is the cause of our troubles.

Do we need to save God's face from their accusations? We restrain our struggles from them in an effort to not to give them a chance to criticize our God and faith.

I told my wife, don't be afraid to be a fool. Don't be afraid to chock up and cry, if needed. We live by FAITH and faith is not faith if we know everything. Faith is not faith if we have answers for all our questions. When Bible says 'now we see but a poor reflection in a mirror', that's something to think about. It is this fact what underlines the significant principle of faith. The next statement says it, 'And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.' We need faith and hope now and here, but then, as we live with Him in eternity, the necessity of faith and hope are fulfilled and the greatest thing, love, reigns for ever.

Now, faith cannot be lively when we are rigid, insensitive and stagnant.

There is something farmers do before they cultivate any crops in the ground. They will till the ground by plowing and harrowing. Some use a tiller to disrupt the smooth ground and make it uneven, messy and irregular. My Dad used to own oxen and he used those animals to do the tilling in our farm. This was before today's industrialization.

The seed wouldn't grow well in a smooth rigid ground. The roots have to travel deep into the soil and for that the soil has to be vulnerable, sensitive and wounded. Only plowed soil can respond well to a growing seed.

The fear to be messy is rooted in my fleshly ambition to be "a good guy", "a perfect spiritual person" or more like a "religious showinist".

There is mess in our life here on earth whether we admit or not. It happens when our worldly securities are shaken and challenged. Then, faith comes in. Jesus talked about child like faith. A child would cry when he fall, but he will eventually stop as he is held tight. It is the faith what sanctions us to be in a muddle but at the same time allow our loving Father to held us tight until our whining silences.

I think it's okay to cry, to be vulnerable, to be confused, to have unanswered questions, to be an object of ridicule, to have faith which is hard to explain to others, to have hope which is meaningless to many, ... and if necessary, to be a fool to others.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

as if God needed anything...

I searched the internet and figured out the earth we live on weighs about 5.972 sextillion (1,000 trillion) metric tons. That’s 5,972,000,000,000,000, 000,000 tons.

It has a circumference of 24,901.55 miles and holding about 6.66 billion people.

Try to get your arms around those numbers.

The sun is about 93 million miles away from earth. While the earth is maintaining its perfect distance from sun (though it's orbiting the sun in an elliptical shape), its rotating in a constant speed (23 hours and 56 minutes and 04.09053 seconds) in its own axis as well. Among these numbers I want to throw one more, which kind of blew my mind away: The star that is closest to earth (after sun) is about 25 trillion miles away. Remember, there are countless number of stars including those which cannot be seen with naked human eyes.

In other words, we have no clue what is out there!

With the limited human intelligence this is what the scientists have figured out so far: the nebula (or the galaxy) containing an average of 100 billion (1011) solar masses, ranging in diameter from 1,500 to 300,000 light-years.

[1 Light Year = 5878171478565.179 Miles]

Okay, okay, I wouldn't even try to do the math :)

This is just a little bit of information about the universe around us, but this puts me in profound veneration for the Being who created these and placed it in its own perfect places. I would stop and take a deep breath and try to sink this that the Most High created these with mere words in His mouth - 'let there be...'.

I can’t imagine the vastness, the unknowns, the infinity, the awesomeness of the universe. When I stand still and look up in the sky, I feel small. I fall into an unexplainable ecstasy and overwhelming reverence when I look at the diversity in His creation from the tiny shrubs in my backyard to the 5.972 sextillion metric tons 'mud-ball' hanging in nothingness.

Let’s say anything above the blue sky is part of heaven. This is what the Bible says:

'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.’ – God (Acts 7:49)

As a man with two legs on the ground at a time, I am not occupying more than a square feet of ground. Out of my foolish ignorance and arrogance, can I even think that God needs something from me, whose throne is heaven itself?

"However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: " 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?' - Acts 7:48-50

What kind of a building can I possibly build to invite God to live in it?

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." - Apostle Paul (Acts 17:24-25)

Does it sound like a blow to prideful man who thinks God needs his money, service, skill, education, ministry or time?

God do not need us or our service, but here is the good news: He wants us! Yes, the same God who said 'Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool' wants to have a relationship with us! Why would He leave His glory in heaven, come down to earth as a dirty carpenter, born in a manger in a tiny town called Bethlehem? So that we can relate to Him! Even the lowest of the lowly among us can relate to Him.

Apostle Paul continues in Acts 17,

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

That is what God wants from us - that we would seek Him and find Him and to be His offspring! And live in Him, move in Him and have our being in Him!

STOP trying to serve Him; just be in Him! That's enough! He will do the rest... Just be His precious child. Stand still and know that He is God. Rest in Him. Relax...

(Happy holidays to all. We are off to New York for few days to visit family and friends...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sharing the message

Should we enforce behavior change? Should we enforce morality? Should we condemn their sins BEFORE we tell them that they are forgiven by the death of Jesus on the cross? Should we become a political power (vote bank) to enforce morality in the world? Should we march against abortionists and gays in order to tell them that God loves sinners?

I think evangelism (or sharing gospel or sharing the love of Jesus) is more than instructing people 'how to escape hell'. One of the biggest hindrance a person can have to come to a point where he realizes he need need Jesus, is his pride. And God opposes the proud. Trying to scare those people with the idea of hell (or rejection by God) or condemning them by their behavior wouldn't necessarily humble them and bring them to a point that they are ready to give up all their efforts/beliefs/unbelief and surrender to Jesus.

People are very skeptical in nature and reluctant to give up something they believe or not believe in order to come to faith in Jesus. So, the question is should we use scare tactics or some kind of emotional force or judgment of their behavior or rebuking of their immorality to shake their heart and bring them to Christ?

Amy over her blog made an excellent statement about this:

When you decide it is your job to force others into truth, you prove by doing so that you think too highly of yourself and too lowly of the Truth.

In other words, when we are forcing people to buy the message we are trying to sell, we are being skeptical about the power of the message itself, the power of Truth. So, we put our efforts to make it happen and most likely we end up using scare tactics, emotional manipulation or even threatening voice because we do not believe in the power of love in the first place.

I am yet to see a life genuinely transformed (inside-out) through fear, but I have seen and experienced unbelievable transformations in people's lives through the power of love. Love never fails!

The other day I came across on a verse in the book of Romans:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? - Romans 2:4

It is when we tell people about the kindness, mercy, grace and love of God, they come to repentance. It's not the other way around, that we use scare tactics to get them to Christ. That usually offend them or probably shut them off. Remember, people are extremely prideful to give up something they always believed (For example: religion) or they never believed. Love humbles people whereas fear and manipulation put them in confusion.

We can consistently point people to the love of God displayed on the cross and that will eventually (as we are being consistent in showing them the love of God through Christ) humble them and ultimately bring them to Christ.

What changed the life of the woman caught in adultery? The judgment of the people who were going to stone her or the love and kindness of Jesus?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Conversation between God and the Legalist

Legalist: Oh God of Abraham, Jacob and Issac, as part of being obedient to your word and commandment, I have decided to fast for the next three days. Bless my fasting. Give me strength to fight temptations of food and drink. I don’t want to be like those pagan Christians who never fast.

God: It sounds like you already know that fasting is going to be hard for you. So it’s better you not fast. I have blessed you with my salvation and will continue to bless you anyways.

Legalist: I am fasting so that I can be much closer to you like I was in the early days.

God: I am living in you.

Legalist: Yes, I mean… No, but that’s only a positional truth. I want your tangible presence.

God: I am living in you.

Legalist: Well, okay! But… I want to restore my fellowship with you which I lost when I sinned last week.

God: I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are my son.

Legalist: I promise you, I will restart my systematic Bible study from next week and I am fasting today so that I can rededicate myself to a more disciplined prayer life and devotion. I ask your forgiveness for not reading my Bible…

God: You are righteous in Christ. You are my beloved son. You are a saint!

Legalist: But,… I still sin… Pls. forgive me. I promise I will take up that nursery ministry at church. I have been feeling so guilty every time pastor brings that topic up.

God: Your sins (past, present and future) have been totally forgiven by the one and only sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Your only work is to believe.

Legalist: I am sorry for skipping the tithe check in the third week of January, 1982.

God: I have accepted you in Christ. I have loved you with perfect love. Nothing can separate you from my eternal love.

Legalist: But I am guilty for not tithing.

God: You have liberty in Christ. You are free from the law.

Legalist: I am sorry for skipping church. I broke Sabbath.

God: Your righteousness comes from Christ, apart from law. You are dead to the law. You cannot be declared righteous through obedience to the law. Law is for those who are under the law, you are free from the law for law makes nothing perfect.

Legalist: I kind of agree but I am sure you didn't mean '10 commandments' when you say law?

God: 2 Cor 3:7-11

Legalist: Pls. fill me with the Holy Spirit

God: My Spirit lives in you since the time you were born-again.

Legalist: Pls. bless me financially, so that I can buy a Cadillac. I promise I will not skip tithe again.

God: My grace is sufficient for you. You are blessed beyond measure in Christ. You may live the rest of the life discovering the treasures you have in Christ.

Legalist: I love you.

God: I have loved you while you were still a sinner.

Legalist: I have sowed the seed of $100 in ORM ministries, I stand on the promise you have given in your word and claim my return - "Give, and it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over..."

God: I have blessed you already with everything you need. You are a citizen in heaven, a part-taker of divine nature, child of the most High and seated with Christ in heaven.

Legalist: I am sorry for thinking bad thoughts against my pastor who is my spiritual authority, shepherd and priest.

God: I am the good Sheperd. You have an eternal High Priest in heaven. You are complete in Me.

Legalist: Bless my church for including me in the church-board, I will keep my commitment to work for the growth of our church to my best.

God: The work of the ministry is to believe in Me.

Legalist: I am recommitting my commitment to serve you. Bless me.

God: I have bestowed my great love on you, walk by faith in it. Rest in Me. Believe. Believe. Believe. Walk by FAITH. Know the TRUTH and be free. I am faithful to complete the work I have started in you.

Lagalist: I am feeling hungry due to fasting! Give me strength to stand firm in my commitment to my fasting and prayer today. I am confident I am not going to give up today. I can do this! Yes! Bless me. Bless me for doing this. Bless me! Forgive my sins! Restore my fellowship! Fill me with Holy spirit! Come closer! Come down! Look how I confessed my sins! Look how I marched against evil-doers! Look how dedicated and committed I am! Look how I give my money! Look how devoted I am to my church and denomination! Look what I am doing for you! Look how I stood for Republican party! Look how pro-life am I! Look how I hate sinners! Bless me!

God: ------------

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our hope!

I see myself making this statement repeatedly these days while discussing politics, economy, religion, culture, climate or anything happening around the world in general: "This world is not getting better". I think anyone who is paying a minimum attention to the news media would have to agree that there is no such news as good news today.

We are not to be surprised by all these because the world system is not built on any constant. Anything relative would be drastically changing over the time based on people's views, opinions and beliefs.

Any experiments in Mathematics and Science would start from a constant. Without a constant, an experiment is not an experiment or it can never produce any verifiable results. The world is going contrary to this basic idea that it would try any experiment without the surety of a constant and guess what the result would be - a complete disaster. This is true for both the world system in general and for the individual lives as well.

The issue is, any house built on sand wouldn't survive a storm.

I am glad I have a constant - Jesus! My life is being built on that constant. This is not to say that there aren't any inconsistencies in my day to day life, but apart from my confusion, doubt or skepticism, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And that is my absolute hope of success in this experiment of life.

I am glad my faith is not based on me (my ability, integrity or strength), myth, story, feel good philosophy or any man-made 'ism's but based on a real, historic, proven-by-facts PERSON, who has defeated death and proved His unchanging, unfailing and unending love towards us. And I know my hope is not a mere 'positive thinking' or 'wishing for the best', but my hope is anchored in Truth and since truth never changes, my hope never changes. My perspective about my hope may change, but the hope itself never changes, because it's a done deal.

" The rain came down [economy failed? politicians failed? climate failed? employer failed?], the streams rose [lost job? lost home? met with an accident? fell into debt?], and the winds blew and beat against that house[dropped out of school? fell sick? lost loved ones? spouse left?]; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock [Jesus]." (Matthew 7:25)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Buddy god"?

You are promoting an "Easy believism", a "buddy god" or a "teddy bear god". This is the perversion of our ancient Christian doctrines, teachings and traditions. This is blasphemy! Are you saying that we just simply need to 'believe' and everything is hunky-dory?

Have you ever heard this before? If not, you will most likely face this question at least once in your lifetime.

My quick answer to this question would be something like this: well, it's better than promoting an angry, wrathful, sadistic, ready-to-whack, fire-spitting, terrorizing God and scare people away from Him!

I am not sure why people think that believing is so easy. It has never been easy for me. I tried to find the counterfeit for belief through religion for many many years. It took so many years for me to come to a place where I realized that I need to give up all my self-efforts to please God through any other means other than believing in His provision of free righteousness.

Adam & Eve failed to believe. Abraham failed to believe. Moses failed to believe. Israelites failed to believe. So why do we think believing is so easy? It's the hardest thing on the face of the earth, but at the same time it's the simplest thing on the face of the earth! Don't ask me why. It's just the way it is. Humans always find it easy to do and earn than to believe and trust. But that doesn't mean that there is an alternative to believing or should we add some of our works to it.

Do we need BIG faith to believe?

Jesus said, 'faith in the size of a mustard seed' would do wonders. What matters is the sincerity of the heart. Jesus said, 'unless you become like these little children...' It's a ruthless trust (as Brennan Manning calls it). Trusting God without apology. Sometimes, I even get scared of seeing the kind of trust my children put on me. It's a sincere, honest, merciless trust - indicating "no matter what as long as it's my Dad, I am going to jump into his hands."

Do they trust me because I am their 'buddy Dad'? Or do they trust me because they know that I am trustworthy and faithful?

Isn't that knowing what gives us the unbelievable, supernatural ability to trust God for who He is? It comes from an understanding of His love for us. We can't muster up faith. It's the love what produces faith, not the other way around.

Yes, we love Him because He is trustworthy and His love displayed on the cross has proved it. We don't love him because he is a 'buddy god' or 'puppet god' or a provider of 'cheap greasy grace'.

He is the God of the universe, who created everything seen and unseen, including the things which we can't even comprehend with our finite mind, by the word of His mouth. But while being such a powerful God, He sent His one and only son Jesus to die on our behalf so that our true humanity can be restored; and displayed the utmost act of love ever been revealed in the history of the planet earth. So, BELIEVE HIM, He is trustworthy, faithful and His love NEVER fails!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The ABC’s of salvation

Next to the main entrance of the church we attended few years ago, there was a table and a stack of fliers on it. It was a one page printout titled ‘ABC’s of salvation’, and below the title, the subsequent lines explained what it means.

A – Accept
B – Believe
C – Confess

To elaborate,

A – Accept you are a sinner.
B – Believe in Jesus.
C – Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

Do these three steps – You are saved!


There were references to bible verses with each step. When I first saw it, I was fascinated by the simplicity of the salvation formula derived from a big book like Bible. I took one copy for myself thinking that I might use this formula to get others saved. I had never seen it simplified like this before. The reason I was fascinated, that my finite brain is always inclined to the ideologies listed as bullet points. It’s easy to read, grasp, teach and share. Also I like the exact ‘science’ of anything.

Now, here is the question I want to pose:

What are the things you need to believe or do in order to fall in love with a girl?

Here is my answer,

1. Get to know her
2. ---------
3. ---------

Hmm… There is no exact science! I don’t know how to put it into bullet points! Love is not a set of statements defined on a piece of paper. There are things which cannot be explained, there are things which cannot be put into words. There are no step 1, 2, 3…There are no schools on the face of the earth who can teach me the science of falling in love.

Isn’t it amazing that we shortened the 66 books of the Bible into few bullet points hoping that we are summarizing it exactly? Has Jesus ever given us a formula? Has the Apostles?

Isn’t salvation nothing but falling in love with Jesus? And isn’t it true that the way I fall in love is NOT the way you fall in love?

How come we reduced this amazing love of God into a step by step process?

1. Listen to a sermon
2. Respond to the altar call
3. Repent of your sins
4. Invite Jesus into heart
5. Pray Sinner's prayer
6. Fill out the decision card
7. Join a church
8. Get baptized in their water by their pastor
9. Seek the gift of tongues (if you are a Charismatic)
10. Submit to the authority of your pastor and believe and do everything he says until your last breath.

What if the salvation is none of these? What if salvation is simply accepting a gift of love from the creator of the universe? What if Bible is not a book of ideologies, but a love letter?

Yes, I admit I am tempted to make everything into an exact science. But that's because I am dumb! Let ever my dumbness negate the essence and beauty of the love of Jesus!

When I itemize the steps for getting saved and staying saved, I am missing the whole point – the whole point of love. It might make my evangelism easier. It might help me to succeed in my Systematic Theology class. But what is the point if I am missing the love? What ideology can truly transform a heart other than genuine love?

I find it increasingly difficult to explain love, grace, faith, hope etc. People look for formulaic answers, but I just don't have it. I mean, I might just say - "I know Jesus loves you; and I hope you will come to know this truth." Is it over-simplified? I don't know!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Believing IS obeying.

"What about obedience?" A question I hear frequently from those who (at least) partially opposing the message of grace. They usually pick a list of sins or a list of commandments from either OT or NT, and pose the question: shouldn't we abstain from these sins? shouldn't we do these things God has commanded us?

All throughout the Bible, starting from the garden of Eden, the consequences people suffered due to sin or disobedience was a direct result of unbelief. In other words, in all cases, the punishment is always directed towards unbelief.

Hebrews chapter 3 makes this abundantly clear. Talking about the Israelites,

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. - Hebrews 3:15-19

It's clear that those who disobeyed were those who disbelieved.

God's anger was toward those who sinned (the verse says). What kind of sin is He talking about? Is it the making of idols? Is it the rebellion against Moses? Is it the grudging toward God? Is it their demand that they want to go back to Egypt?

Why was He angry for forty years?

'Because of their unbelief'. They failed to believe His promise. If there was any disobedience, it was a direct result of their unbelief in God's promise. And God's judgment is always toward unbelief, because unbelief is the root of any sin.

When I stop believing God to supply all my needs, I might be tempted to steal. I might even steal.

For any disease, it's highly critical that we diagnose and treat the root cause. Treating the symptoms is not enough. So in case of stealing, should we treat the disease of stealing? Or should we treat the disease of unbelief?

All throughout the years, decades and centuries, the church is trying to treat the symptoms, not the disease. So they have all these temporary pain relievers and fever reducers in the form of self discipline, accountability, principles, values, traditions etc. They know it is temporary, but they still keep on prescribing the same thing again and again. None of these 'Tylenols' and 'Mortins' can never ever go deeper beneath the skin to the heart and fix the heart of unbelief.

Believing is a choice and when we are believing, we are indeed obeying.

Depression, worry and fear are some natural consequences resulting from an unbelieving heart. We can either believe God, in a moment by moment basis, which is nothing but walking by the Spirit or we can choose to walk by the flesh.

Major Ian Thomas, in his book titled, 'The indwelling life of Christ', says about this,

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25), and this is what it means to walk in the Holy Spirit: to take one step at a time, and for every new situation into which every new step takes you, no matter what it may be, to hear Christ saying to your heart, "I AM", then to look up into His face by faith and say, "You are! That is all I need to know, Lord, and thank You, for You are never less than adequate."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Friends, Gods, and Devils

I am currently reading the story of C.S Lewis in a book titled 'The man behind Narnia', which I took from the youth section of our city library. I like books from the youth section, especially biographies, since it has large prints and it's much readable. It's not that I have eye sight issues, it's just the ease in reading large prints.

I have admired C.S Lewis in a great respect as a scholarly writer and Christian apologist. His genius and intellect is highly commendable. But what surprised me in this book was the other side of the story - his struggles as a young child, early death of his father and mother, the fear, confusion and loneliness he endured as a young adult, the eccentricity he showed while being a Professor in Oxford and Cambridge, his late marriage with an American woman who held anti-american views, her suffering with cancer etc. Many of his early writings were rejected by publishers. It also surprised me the little things such a wardrobe and the ordinary people such as a gardener who have influenced him to write many of his books later in his life.

In this book, there is a chapter called 'Friends, Gods, and Devils' where the author discusses about the friend circle and the community Lewis was part of, while living and teaching in Oxford. He says,

They [Lewis and his friends] met on Thursday evenings, with no formal agenda or minutes of officers, but a common determination to share their writing and thoughts.

"Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?" wrote Lewis. "The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are".

They usually met in Lewis's rooms, with food such as ham and cheese on the table and always a pot of very strong tea brewed by Warnie (Lewis's brother).

The chapter later says, they also met before lunch at the beginning of the week in an Oxford Pub called The Eagle and Child. It says, there was outpouring of wit, nonsense, whimsy, dialectical swordplay.

Lewis once said:

Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, "sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends." I know I am fortunate in that respect. - The letters of C.S Lewis to Arthur Greeves

I get excited by reading about this kind of communities where people meet with no formal agenda or minutes of officers. Wow! What a great way of having fellowship with like minded believers? I agree with Lewis, "Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?"

Somewhere along the line we lost it. We introduced agendas, minutes and officers and focused on it/them rather than focusing on the people and what what God is doing in their lives. We lost the sweetness of friendships, the casual encounters with people, the warmth of hospitality, the exchange of real issues with real people. We reduced such great fellowships to the unauthentic pulpit-pew system where there is no room for any exchange. We isolated ourselves from others in order to earn and achieve our selfish dreams and we said goodbye to the biblical model of casual but authentic assembling of believers and embraced the element of anonymity in mega churches.

I am wondering if there are still those endangered breeds of Christians who are willing to meet with others without the pressure of agendas, minutes and officers? And probably come together as they are and exchange their hearts in love?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Health and Fitness.

I workout in the gym near to my office. There you see some people running in the treadmill as if they are angry at their own body. Then there are some ladies who walk in the treadmill in 1 mile/hour speed, even slower than their normal walk, all the time reading Cosmopolitan, People and other similar magazines. The other day the lady next to my treadmill was reading “10 crazy things you can do to improve your sex life” and commenting about it to the lady other side, who is also walking in ‘negative’ speed. In the locker room, men walk around naked. I am afraid some of them are gays! But overall, I like the gym, it gives me a sense of fitness after each workout. I started out in August with a high intensity workout thinking that I could lose 5 pounds in one day. Eventually (in few days!), I learned to agree with the reality that the pounds I have gained in past many years is not that easy to shed off. But more than the weight lose, it gives me a healthy feeling which is worth the pain.

The other day I told my wife that the reason I work out is to sweat, which is a ‘commandment’ of God. God told Adam: "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food". My job is working on the computer and no matter how aggressive I type on the keyboard or move my mouse I wouldn’t sweat. So I take a break and go to gym, do some workout to sweat. She thought I was crazy.

I remember reading a book called Maker’s Diet, written by Jordan Rubin. This book was highly promoted by TBN and during those days my wife and I were huge TBN addicts. We watched TBN as if it was a ‘holy’ thing to do. We ended up buying this book and read it eagerly. In the book, the author tries to extract eating principles from Bible and provide a diet plan for everybody to follow. For example, in the Book of Leviticus God gives the dietary laws and said not to eat shell fish. So as per Jordan, it’s better not to eat shell fish such as Shrimp etc. He is not promoting it as a legalistic thing, but as a good thing for health.

We both stopped eating shell fish, pork and inorganic meat and poultry; and started buying organic milk, yogurt, fruits etc. Our grocery bill went through the roof. Since John the Baptist ate wild honey, we too bought raw, unprocessed honey from health store. Bread without yeast, and everything organic etc are few other suggestions by the author.

Later on, we have come to a realization that unless we grow everything in our own farm, we can't afford these. We eventually gave up and returned to 'normalcy' (Well, I don't know what is normalcy). By the way, I felt so good while following this diet but it was very expensive. I am left with no other option than eating all the processed, chemically modified junk food, because that's cheap.

My ideal place to live is a farm. And grow everything we need there including vegetables, fruits, birds and animals. Running in the open air would be a great, refreshing workout. Riding a horse through the unpaved farm trails would be adventurous. I love the sound of crickets in the night. I am naturally drawn to earth, it's smell and it's beauty and wildness. I am looking forward for that day to come...

Happy B'day, Matthew!!!

Happy B'day to my dear brother Matthew!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Community, love and other things

Well, again I am going back and forth on the issue of community here. I do not believe God intended people to live a disconnected life. God Himself is an interconnected Being – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He gave Adam a companion – Eve. He invented and established the concepts of marriage, family, community, and ecclesia.

Jesus came, gathered 12 people, taught them and lived with them. He could gather more than 10,000 people at one time without fliers, banners, television commercials, internet and email. It was easy in a close-knit community to publicize through the word of mouth.

In Acts, people gathered regularly in homes, prayed, sang, encouraged and ate together. They shared everything they had with everyone.

The local churches in NT - Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians etc represents a symbol of the global (universal) church of Jesus, shows us how we (members of the body of Christ) ought to serve one another. Again, you see community here.

People had a higher degree of dependability on God. When there wasn't rain for their crops, they cried out to God. When there was sickness or emergency, they prayed. Today we call 911. And who cares about rain today? I have city supplied water coming in my kitchen when I turn the knob. I get grocery in Walmart super center.

There was confessing of sins to each other. There was 'speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.'

All the believers were together and had everything in common.

Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.

They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2)

They were poor, but still rich. They didn't have much stuff like we do, but still contented. Because it was about equality - Exodus 16:18 (2 Cor 8:15).

All the believers were one in heart and mind.

No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.

There were no needy persons among them.

For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. (Acts 4)

We have 'grown' way too far that the above mentioned are a bunch of 'stupid ideas' with no practicality today. We have made ourselves so much 'sophisticated' that today we do not even know who lives next door to us. We have isolated ourselves into nuclear homes and thereby abandoned the God-given abilities to love, share, listen, support, encourage and console.

"I am too busy I have no time." This is a shitty thing.

While we are busy measuring our success by possessions, money and power, we doom into the 'normalcy' of this world's seducing materialism. Jesus was a radical, but yet an ordinary person people could relate to. He was radical not because we was rich, he was a radical because he was poor.

I will stop here because I am no different than any other ignorants. I can only sit in the comfort of my living room and shed a few drops of tears when I see on the television screen the heart wrenching suffering of people around me who are desperately in need of love, care and affection. How pathetic?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Money talk

I get a minimum of one ‘pre-approved’ credit card offer every day in the mail, varies from 0% interest for 1 year to no interest on balance transfers for 18 months, including free vacation, free sky miles, free hotel etc. There was a time in my life when I wanted to fill my wallet with all the major credit cards. Guess what? When the credit card bill exceeded 10,000 dollars and no matter how much I paid every month everything went to interest only, I started rethinking the whole thing. After consolidating all the debt into one card, I dumped all my credit cards except just one. I think there is certain level of deception involved in these credit card, mortgage and loan offers many lending companies extend to people. The recent suffering in the economic system shows us that many people were in fact fell for it and were deceived. Many of them took loans they couldn’t afford paying, ended up giving it up for bankruptcy or foreclosure.

I read an interesting article today, called God Want You to Get That Mortgage? .

While my heart goes out to those who are trapped in the deception of lending companies, I think, at the same time, there are many who did not use their brain to make intelligent decisions. I was one of them and I am still suffering the consequences, still unsure of when I would be able to pay my debts.

I once heard a pastor telling the congregation - imagine the 4 bedroom home you have been desiring in your mind, dream about it all the time; imagine the Cadillac you always wanted, go for an imaginary ride in it; he made it a bit more funny when he said: practice washing your imaginary Cadillac in your driveway. He said he himself does practice such. And as you practice more of these, all these dreams will eventually come true. I think many people took his word to heart. When that impressive loan offer came in the mail, they thought it was God opening a way to make their dreams come to reality. [I am well aware that there are many genuine cases of losing job etc, but that's not my point here]

I believe in prosperity in the sense that God can and will provide for the needs of His children which includes physical, emotional but most importantly spiritual. Speaking about physical things, I have more than what I need today, except that Cadillac, of course! Now, should I sit here and think that I am some way inferior to the person who owns a Cadillac? Or should I even wonder that I have less faith than him? Absolutely not! In fact, it's ridiculous to think that way. But, unfortunately this is exactly what many people, who are following a line of prosperity think and believe. It's a grieving thing. [I don't even know how we got the name 'prosperity gospel', the only gospel Paul preached was the gospel which revealed the righteousness of God (Rom 1:16-17), which has nothing to do with material prosperity]

Matthew 6:19-21 makes much sense when we read it along with the understanding of our eternal inheritance in Christ and the citizenship we have in heaven. Every single promises in the Bible has some element of eternal value to it unlike the temporal promises of money and earthly treasures many preach today.

I am against today's prosperity preaching because it can only cause people to lose their eternal perspective and compromise it for the temporal pleasures of this soon passing world. I can only feel sorry for a person who thinks God has promised a supreme, glamorous and perfect life in this world. He hasn't, instead he encourages us to 'seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.' (Col 3:1). If we are preoccupied with divine money transfers and 5 bed room homes, how is it possible that we could 'seek those things which are above'?

A friend of mine once shared the story of a family who bought a remarkably big home and how they explained the motive for their purchase. In their own words: "we want to show off the blessings God has given to us, we want to make sure that we live what we preach". I don't know if you can see the problem here, but I am not able to digest this kind of thinking. In Bible, Jesus encourages those who have more, to share with those who have less; he never told us to show off! What if those who live in the streets of Calcutta start comparing their material blessings with some one living in a posh community in the west? Does God has double standard? Would it be fair to think that one of his children living in the street is inferior to another one of his children living in a mansion? What kind of a justice is that? I mean, do we even believe in a just God, today?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Office

I work in the 14th floor of a 20 story building, so I use elevator at least 4-5 times a day including my trip to gym during lunch time. It’s a nice elevator with steel plating on the walls separated by tiny pieces of mirrors. If I am alone in it, I spend my few seconds looking in the mirror. I feel safe and kinky, make ugly faces, smile and grin. Sometimes I look up in the mirror on the ceiling and see how the top of my head is getting bald.

This elevator is only for level 12 through 20. For up to the 12th floor there is a separate one. So, this one is usually not that crowded. For the past one year, ever since I moved to this office, I had only two people (strangers) wished me ‘have a good day’ as I stepped out of the elevator at my floor. Most people keep staring on the floor until they reach their level. I do the same most of the time. Sometimes I take a peek at people without letting them know that I am looking at them, especially those who come with intense smell of perfume. Some smell make me want to puke, so I will hold my breath until they get out.

Most of the people are sad. Or may be they appear sad to me. Some of them are busy working attentively on the blackberries and storm out when the door opens, leaving a lot of shoe taps on the granite floor. I even want to tell them to slow down.

I was depressed for about two days last week. My wife’s friend and family lost their 8 months old baby girl. Those two days, I didn’t look at people, I didn’t look straight; I didn’t give people eye contact. I don’t know why. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. I was hurt for that family. I saw the child wrapped in cloths and placed in a tiny coffin. She looked beautiful. I looked at the Dad and Mom of that baby, but couldn’t keep my eyes on them for long. I had no consoling words for them but my wife told them that their baby is with God. I believe all babies goes to heaven when they die. They are innocent.

It made me wonder why people rush all the time as though if they slow down they would miss something important. I was comparatively slow last week, didn’t care who else was sharing the elevator with me, didn’t care if they looked at me. It made me wonder what hope we have apart from Christ Jesus and it hurt me to see people live hopeless life, some of them in a state of denial.

I drank more coffee and ate more food.

There are three safe havens for me in my office - an empty elevator, empty rest room and my cubicle. I love it when there aren't anyone else in the restroom so that I can makes faces looking in the mirror.

My boss is a cool man. He keeps talking about flying radio controlled airplanes, which is his passion. He even fly real airplanes and showed me a picture of him flying a single engine Cessna. But he has no commercial pilot license. He wouldn't micromanage me at work unlike many of my ex-bosses. He shows me the software he uses to edit his home videos and teach me how to use it. He can keep on talking about movies in which I have no interest in. But I put up a face as though I am interested. But it's difficult to do it for long time.

There are more than 10 different flavors of coffee in the kitchen. Some of the people in our office looks restless and I doubt if it's due to excessive coffee drinking. I listen to Dr. Bob Marshal in a Christian radio station and according to him coffee is only good for doing enema. It's a cleansing liquid it seems. He says organic coffee can cleanse-out toxins from our body if used in enema; but drinking any coffee through mouth would make only negative effect. I still drink a minimum of 2 cups of coffee everyday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Christ in you

"To be in Christ ­ that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you ­ that is sanctification! To be in Christ ­ that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you ­ that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ ­ that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you ­ that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home ­ the other makes this world His workshop."
(Major W. Ian Thomas - The Saving Life of Christ. Zondervan Publishing 1972. pg. 19)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some more "church" talk!

It's interesting to see people spending a lot of time and energy to debate, discuss and figure out whether we should attend institutionalized churches or "house churches". How did a institutionalized church become institutionalized? Was it because it was in a special building? Or was it because people implemented their agendas, knowledge of half truths, ideas, personal preferences, rituals, falsehood etc? If so, how much it takes to have a "house church" institutionalized? It wouldn't take much. It's even easier because you have more 'control' there.

Some people all of a sudden get influenced by a "liberal demon" and jump from Presbyterian to Wynyard or Emergent and think that they are 'free' now. They aren't. The only difference is now they are thinking the Emergent church is "the" church or the Wynyard is "the" church (BTW, I have nothing against any of these organizations in particular). None of these are churches, there are merely some organizations. And yes, there are people under those roofs who are truly part of the invisible, universal, ever growing church of Jesus Christ.

None of these "movements" are going to resolve anything. Doesn't matter how frustrated you were when you were in the Baptist church and how "happy" you are in the Pentecostal church. The happiness we get when we jump from one building to another is not really the happiness God supplies. It is just the happiness coming from a sense of adventure, that you think that you are doing something "different" - like bungee jumping.

The REAL adventure is not jumping from one church to another. The real adventure is losing all our securities, which includes people-provided, church-provided, community-provided, clergy-provided and doctrine-provided securities and abandon ourselves into the hands of a perfectly loving God and hang in there, see what HE does in our life. That to me is adventurous.

The more we talk about "church", it shows how less we care about the "Head". The moment people come to know that I am a Christian, the next question is where do I go to church. Give me a break! My wife lies to people that we attend a non-denominational church just to avoid further questions. And I am teaching her to tell the truth! And she says she doesn't know how to give a proper answer why as Christians we do not park our bodies in a building on Sundays. I see her point because it isn't that easy to explain.

I want to stop jumping from one building to another building, because when I do it, all I am thinking is about the building. What can it offer to me? I am thinking about ME. I love ME! I love the fact that when I have flood in my basement there is a church member dispatched by the pastor to help me drain water. But now I am obliged to do the same thing when he has a flood. That's not selfless love. That's people working for each other. They are just not paying any monetary wages, instead they pay with their work. For doing the dispatching pastor gets his pay check. So, where is love in the whole deal?

Paul said: Love is not self-seeking.

I think love is not love if it's not selfless. That is the problem of building-bound spirituality, it is almost impossible to extend and receive selfless love while we are bombarded with building issues - how to maintain it, how to grow it, how to beatify it, how to make it more marketable etc.

I have criticized the 'building' I left but I think the issue was that I didn't really know the love of Christ the way I know it today (I am not claiming I know it fully, I will never know until I see him face to face). It was more of a intellectual understanding of that particular church's doctrines. I wasn't really free! It was my own struggle while I was still bound.

I thought moving the "worship" from that building to my home would change everything. It changes nothing! You move your bondage from a special building to a "house church" thinking that you are very trendy and adventurous, I am telling you it changes nothing. What changes us is the truth. The truth that Jesus loves us regardless of whether we are sleeping in the comfort of our bed on Sunday morning or we are sitting in a pew. It is the love what transforms us, not our changing of parking places.

As we get hold of this love, the "building" becomes a nonissue. The temptation to criticize all the "churches" subsides. Our focus changes. The source of our joy is no more depended on the beauty of the songs sung by the choir. And since it comes from the right source, it stays, it's consistent and we know it's priceless. No buildings can ever give us this, only Jesus can.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


It was a book which greatly influenced me in my childhood (even today) with it’s unique story of creation then the rude sounding story of expelling Adam and Eve from the garden.

I have listened an hour long sermon a pastor preached trying to prove that 6 days of creation weren’t really 24 hrs days instead 1000 years days. All because somewhere in Bible it said 1000 years is like one day to God. Some people find it so difficult to believe that God really created the dry land in 24 hours. Using my limited common sense I thought that was ludicrous to think that way. If God took 1000 years for creating light (for example), what does it mean? Did he create a little light such as a candle light and waited 1000 years to get it evolved to sun and moon and stars? Or did he do a lot of research in his heavenly laboratory to figure out how he can produce light which will cover the entire earth? Or was he raising fund for this experiment? I thought he just SPOKE and it came into existence.

The way he created man was amazing. It was a unique creation. He didn’t just utter ‘Let there be a man’, but he was really involved in his creation. I had a picture of an artist with a long grayish hair and long beard, who is specialized in creating sculptures, bending down near to the sculpture's face and breathing his breath in to it through the nostrils. All of a sudden the sculpture became alive and started moving. His heart started beating, his skin became glossy, he can now think, see, taste, hear and talk. It’s pretty amazing, if we think.

My Mom always wanted us to read Bible from cover to cover and there were some special days such as the week of Easter, which is considered holier than any other week, she would insist us to take up our reading.

Then I would pick the only bible we had then and start reading loudly from Genesis chapter 1. As far as I can remember I had read it may be up to the sixth chapter then I will yawn and feel tired. I even thought, 'why am I reading this fairy tale?' I will look around to see if my Mom is there, if she isn’t then I will slowly close the Bible sneak out to play.

I thought God was rude not to let Adam and Eve eat from that one tree. He sounded even ruder when he said ‘when you eat of it you will surely die’. That wasn’t fair, I thought. But until few years ago, I didn’t even know that Adam didn’t really 'die' on the day he ate that fruit. It came to me as a huge revelation where I almost jumped out of joy. I read he lived 930 years and produced few children. A dead man cannot produce children!

So, did God lie? Did He say that they will die if they eat that fruit just to scare them? Was it to show them that He is capable enough to take their lives if He wants? Did he have a superiority complex?

Then the revelation hit my brain, a light bulb went on. He died spiritually! He didn't die physically or even mentally. It is very difficult for a mentally dead person to produce children! The element of godliness in his being left Him. He lost his wholeness and was broken. The spirit of God indwelled Him is no more indwelling him. It left an emptiness in Him. It opened the eyes of his flesh and he found that he was naked. He didn't feel close to God and he tried to hide. He felt unfulfilled and restless. He gained his knowledge of good and evil, declared his independence from God and lost (spiritual) LIFE. Wow! Now it makes sense why Jesus came to give us LIFE and He is called the 'second Adam'. Now it makes sense what it means to be 'born-again', being born from God and indwelled by his spirit. Now it makes sense why we feel so unfulfilled and restless until we find that life in God. Now it makes sense why we feel so empty even after gaining all the money, fame, glamor and power.

When ever I get a revelation from Bible, I get so excited that I feel that I will die if I don’t share it with someone. I hadn’t started blogging then (about 5 years ago). I hadn't even heard about such a thing. So I preach to my wife and she would try to conjure up her entire energy to listen to my long, boring, theological ramblings. Then she will yawn. Then I will feel sad and discouraged. (Now a days my preaching to her is not about Adam and Eve but about the difference between law and grace) These days she has learned to yawn while keeping her mouth closed. I wouldn’t even know if she really yawned until I see tears in her eyes. Now I am practicing it as it is very helpful while attending some meetings at work. I wish I had known this technique earlier while I was in the "church".

Recently when I got a chance to share some spiritual stuff with my Mom, the first thing I told was that Adam didn’t really physically die on that day and explained to her what it meant. It said, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image. If the Dad was dead, his son was also dead; and all of us, down to this century born dead spiritually into this world, helplessly fallen short of god's glory. No wonder why we don't have to teach people to sin, they will learn it by their own. The restoration, forgiveness and life Jesus offered makes much sense now.

There is sin, independence, deception, ungodliness, sacrifice, blood, covering, grace, law, punishment, death and pretty much everything scattered throughout Bible, are in the book of Genesis. Tear the book out and the entire Bible wouldn’t make any sense at all. Thank God, for using your servant Moses to write down this book for us!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The mixture.

In God's economy, it is either hot or cold. You are either saved or lost. You are either under grace or under law. You are either under the old covenant or the new covenant. He don't deal with us in a lukewarm middle-ground where nothing is consistent. And I think it makes sense. He kind of made it clear in the message to the church in Laodicea - 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

The mixture is not good. Paul was irritated by galatianism, the mixture of law and grace, that he even called them 'foolish'. It's better that we are either be under the law or under the grace. Those who are trying fervently to live a righteous life under law will possibly realize their futility and come to the knowledge of grace one day. There is hope for them. But there is only a very little hope for those who mix it. They think they are under grace, but in reality they are not.

When we fall from grace, we are naturally falling into law. But to get to the mixture, there has to have a deliberate effort. Through the illustration of the New wine in the old wineskin , Jesus showed us this. If we pour the new wine into the old wineskin, the new wine will break the old hard wineskin as it continues to ferment and run out. Both, the wine and the wineskin are ruined and lost. Who want to tear a patch from a new garment and sew it on an old one? It will make both garments useless and ruined.

Do you want to hold onto the law? Hold on to it tight! Put your best of the best efforts to live it out. (And when you are tired trying to measure up, let me know, I will tell you about a GIFT). But don't try to sprinkle little bit of grace here and there. It will spoil both God's holy law and His awesome grace.

Again, please don't see this as a doctrinal hair splitting. The above mentioned error of mixture has produced enough organizational, institutional, business-like enterprises called 'churches', which are evidently hindering people from having a relationship with a loving God, who has exhibited His unconditional, and unfailing act of love and Grace upon the cross.

God-is-the-same argument

God is the same yesterday, today and forever, so how can you say that He has changed after Jesus's appearance?

Well, He HASN'T changed, but THINGS have changed!

My wife and I got married on December 28, 2002. One day before, which is December 27th, we couldn't express our intimacy beyond certain limits. But in 24 hours, we entered into a new relationship which gave us freedom for intimacy in a new level. Have I changed in 24 hours? NO! But THINGS have changed!

What if we still live in an unmarried mentality?

That's precisely what some Christians do today, they live in an unmarried mentality. They are not realizing the death and resurrection of Christ has changed THINGS. The same God who showed His presence in the holy of holies of an earthly tabernacle where only high priests were allowed to enter once in an year, torn that curtain down from the top to bottom, stepped out of His glory, came to us as a baby born in a manger, lived among us as a mere carpenter, died for us and trampled all the hindrances which kept us away from having an intimate relationship with Him, gloriously resurrected on the 3rd day and imparted His LIFE to us and placed us in Him and declared that we are His bride and nothing can separate us from His love; He lives IN Us today.

THINGS have really changed and now it's upto us to live in this new level of intimacy, love and togetherness instead of going back to the unmarried attitude.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How much more!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! - Matthew 7:11

He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! - Matthew 12:11-12

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! - Luke 12:24

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! - Luke 12:28

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! - Romans 5:9-10

For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! - Romans 5:15

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. - Romans 5:17

If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! - 2 Corinthians 3:9

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! - Hebrews 9:13-14

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? - Heb 10:28-29

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 Commandments - The ministry of death

...not only that, it is the ministry of condemnation as well.

I am not playing the safe game of 'balance' between law and grace here. Teaching that we are fully free from any form of law including 10 commandments is considered heretic and 'extreme' by a lot many Christians. They say it is only the ceremonial laws we are free from, not the 10 commandments. It's kind of funny when Christians themselves trying hard to prove Apostle Paul, who wrote the major part of NT, wrong! What we are not realizing is that when we make 10 commandments our sacred cow, we are in effect negating the work of Jesus on the cross.

The freedom from law and living under pure grace wasn't just an idea Paul came up with. In the Old Testament itself God gave us many typologies and even direct revelations (Jer 31:31-34) about the New Covenant and the righteousness apart from law, and how His mercy is going to triumph over the judgment which came from law.

Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2: 13)

The lid on the Ark of the Covenant in the OT was called the 'mercy seat'. There were three things in the Ark - Tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments, Aaron's rod and a pot of manna. These three were covered by the Ark's cover called 'mercy seat'. It says that God's presence was between the two cherubims on the mercy seat, where the priests sprinkled the blood of the lamb. No one was allowed to look into the Ark, the tablets were kept hidden under the mercy seat. While God's presence dwelled on the mercy seat, He saw the the blood of the animals sprinkled on it, but NOT the tablets which are under the golden lid. The picture it shows is that God's mercy (blood of Jesus) triumphs over the judgment(Law).

It is also interesting to see the Hebrew word used for mercy seat (Kaporet) is same as the word for propitiation in NT, which literally means 'wipe out'. Jesus wiped out our sins for ever through His one sacrifice and kept the law hidden under His mercy, not only that he took the law (which was against us) away. I love the typologies in the Bible!

He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. - Colossians 2:13-14

Isn't it ridiculous that we still want to unnail the 10 commandments from the cross and hang on our walls? and give permission to the Devil (the accuser of the brethren) to accuse us using the same?

...the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone - 2 Cor 3:7

...the ministry that condemns men - 2 Cor 3:9

...for the letter kills - 2 Cor 3:5

We all know what was engraved in letters on stone. It's nothing but the 10 commandments. Let me make it clear, it was NOT the ceremonial laws what was engraved on the stones, it was the 10 commandments.

Why is the 10 commandments a ministry of death and condemnation?

It's quite simple: those two cold stones couldn't cleanse people from their sins, though it accused them. And that's exactly the purpose of the law was - to accuse us, to blame us, to condemns us, to take us to the end of our ropes, there by point us our desperate need for a savior.

Bible says, law is like a mirror which can show the dirt on our face, but couldn't make an ounce of difference to our condition (When we see dirt on our face, we don't use the mirror to wipe it, we use water). The law is perfect and holy, but it can't make us perfect and holy (But don't blame your mirror for showing you your true face. God found fault with the people - Heb 8:8). So, once law completes it's work in a person's life (pointing him/her to Christ), it has to be done away with and should get rid of it. Let's not give the Devil a tool to accuse us further.

We have better things to deal with today. We have God's mercy. We have a new spirit. We have a glorious New Covenant which brings righteousness. We have a ministry of the Spirit of which the glory lasts for ever unlike the Old Covenant which had a fading glory.

Moses had to hide his face with a veil, so that people wouldn't see the glory/radiance on his face was fading. He had to run back to the presence of God to get the radiance again. In Christ, the veil is taken away (2 Cor 3:9). So, today we don't have to shy away from God or from people, since our unveiled faces reflect God's everlasting glory and 'we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit'.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor 3:16)

Let's stop reading Moses, start reading Jesus.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. -John 1:17. Look, Law was given (keeping a distance), but grace came, to accomplish something for us which we couldn't accomplish ourselves through the law.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

'Benefits' of being in the institutional church.

To be honest, there are some 'benefits' being in the institutional church for a while and then leave, so that today I can have little fun sharing my experiences with you.
  • I can share the torment, heart ache, judgment, foolishness, lifelessness and the double talk I went through with another soul today who is trapped in religion.
  • I can chuckle on some of the double standards I held.
  • Think and wonder how self-righteous I was.
  • How I tried to split the doctrinal hairs of many minor issues in the Bible, while I had everything wrong on the majors in the Bible.
  • Today I can share the stories with someone else (who can relate) how difficult it was to hide my true face with a smiley mask.
  • How desperately I wanted to sell ‘Jesus’ and evangelize the entire world but couldn’t get even a single soul to the magic level of 'sinner’s prayer'.
  • How I admired those with seminary degrees and PhD’s at the end of their names; and felt a bit envious about them seeing all the respect and admiration they get from people.
  • How reverent I was in the presence of people with a ‘Rev.’ in front of their names.
  • How faithful I was in my tithing that I felt so good, self-righteous and prideful after putting each check in the offering plate.
  • How difficult it was to welcome the old ex-prostitute who came to the door and how difficult was it to love her.
  • How heated the debate was do determine whether to let her participate in the Lord's supper since she wasn't baptized.
  • What a perfect devotion I had towards the ‘authority’ of the church and how submissive I was to them.
  • How wonderful I felt when they talked about the possibility of including me in the church board.
  • The privileges I enjoyed as being an 'official member' of the church and I even dreamed about the nice things people would tell about me during my funeral.
  • How wonderful the food was in the fellowship hours after the service and I always appreciated those ice creams and pizzas people brought for their children's birthdays.
  • How much sins I confessed during the endless alter calls Sunday after Sunday, and still wondered and worried if I were really forgiven, even saved.
  • How beautiful it was to memorize the fruits of the spirit and I find it even challenging to memorize it in the order it is written in Bible; but didn’t have a clue what it was like bearing those fruits in real life.
  • How enthusiastically I looked forward to each 'service' in order to get a boost to my spiritual energy.
  • How (righteously) angry I was at my wife for being late to dress up kids to go to church on Sunday mornings.
  • What a struggle it was to 'keep' my salvation and how much I searched internet to study how conditional the salvation was.
  • How desperately I wanted to pursue holiness and acceptance through - fasting, prayer, Bible study, charity, dedication, church work and service.
  • How much I admired faith healers and wished (secretly) if I could do the 'blowing' like them so that the entire people in the auditorium would fall like dead bodies.
  • How I wanted to show off the thick Bibles/concordances/study tools etc I owned.
  • How great I felt when the pastor once told that I pray very well and effectively after listening to one of my public prayers.
  • How much I looked forward for the mention of my name by the pastor from pulpit about the tireless services I did for the church.
  • How I felt so worthy when once pastor publicly praised me for giving a ride for a family who didn't have a car and lived far away.
  • How accurately I learned to define salvation as a step by step process starting from Romans 10:9
  • How angry I used to get at the slow old lady drivers while speeding to the church On Sunday mornings while blaming my wife all the way for being late.
  • How many times I have used the 'F' word (in my heart) at the sluggish drivers while driving to the 'House of the Lord'!
  • What a terrible fight my wife and I used to have during the 30 minutes drive to church; but after stepping into the building how cleverly we tried to appear as if we were the happiest couple in the world.
  • How wisely I thought it was my wife's job to take care of the kids during the service letting her husband to attend the service and gain all the insights from the preaching, which (I thought) she couldn't gain even if she attended!
  • What a dirty hypocrite was I! What a white washed tomb was I! How much I dragged the 'filthy rags' all along...
Aaah... Thank God for rescuing me from the unauthentic, hypocritical, self-righteous, unreal, dishonest lifestyle of a Pharisee... and humbling me and putting me back on the solid ground of your awesome grace where love and love alone reigns all the more. Hallelujah!

What a relief it is to be free from institutionalism!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Unpardonable sin

The below is something a sincere Christian student wrote, who is worried about the 'unpardonable sin':

"I would like to just know if what it says in Matthew is true. It states that every sin is forgivable, except if a person speaks badly about the Holy Spirit. I have attended a private Christian school and one day my Bible teacher was saying that a person is not forgiven if he/she speaks against the Holy Spirit. As he stated that… I thought something against the Holy Spirit. I did not mean to… it just happened. I prayed and asked forgiveness, but does that mean I am forgiven or eternally condemned? SINCERELY WORRIED"

It made me chuckle because I could relate.

There was a time in my pentecostal church life that I was worried about the unpardonable sin; but then later on, I figured out the unpardonable sin was nothing but speaking against Holy spirit and His gifts. I even thought all the baptists are doing 'unpardonable' sin as they speak against the gift of tongues, prophecy etc. I couldn't wait to see the baptists burning in the hell as the Pentecostals dancing in heaven. I even mentioned this 'revelation' to my pentecostal pastor and he agreed!

Yes, there is something called unpardonable sin; but the question is, what is it?

But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. - Mark 3:29

It's important to see the verse following this:

He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit." In another words, they did not believe Jesus for who He is (God), and Jesus called it an unpardonable sin. Which in fact IS an unpardonable sin!

The same incident was recorded by Mathew as well:

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. - Mathew 12:32

Here, it is important to see what the purpose of sending the Holy Spirit was:

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. - John 16:7-11

The sin (singular) mentioned here is the sin of unbelief ('because men do not believe in me'). Holy Spirit convicts an unbeliever of their unbelief in Jesus and if they reject that conviction, it is a sin against Holy Spirit and it will not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come. The ONLY sin Holy Spirit ever going to convince people is the sin of unbelief.

As far as the believers are concerned, they have already repented of their unbelief and placed their faith in Christ Jesus and are free of any condemnation. Holy Spirit's job in a believer's life is to convince them of their righteousness in Christ ('He will guide you into all truth'). The truth of who we are in Christ.

There are no sin which is unpardonable other than the sin of unbelief, which has to be repented of. All other sins were judged on the body of Christ, has taken away from the eyes of God, never to see them again. Today, if somebody is condemning us due to our sins, it is either 'the accuser of the brethren' or one of his agents. Holy Spirit will never ever point us to our sins, instead He will always point us to Christ and His righteousness which is imputed to us.