Monday, February 25, 2008

A mind on earthly things

Living with a light attitude towards the 'earthly things' in this post modern competitive world is becoming an increasing struggle for me. The compulsion to be competitive is unavoidable in career, education, money etc. I think I am on a run all the time. Running from my bed in the morning to drop the kids at school, then running to the office, sitting in front of the computer 8 hrs, most of the time with the pressure building up in the head to meet certain deadlines. In the evening running back to pick my kids, running to home, rushing through many things including shower, dinner etc to get to the final point of the day – the bed. Next day continues the same journey. Week-ends are no different and in fact week-ends are much busier than week days. Is this a common phenomenon in this century? I feel like I am running to keep up with everyone else. If I drive 60 miles/hr on a 70 miles zone freeway, I feel like I am failing to keep up. On top of all these, the worries of a regular parent, giving good education to the kids, learning new skills to keep up with the competitive job industry, having enough money for the retirement...

I have relatives and friends who talk about money/business/career all the time. They read ‘how to become a millionaire’ while on vacation. They look down to us, if we don’t plan, save and invest smartly. And I am poor in all these, so I sometimes feel insecure for not having a great financial plan or a career goal.

On the other hand, sometimes I think I need to really slow down but don’t know how. It appears that there is not even a single thing I can take off from the list of things I do everyday. I really want to spend more time reading, thinking and writing.

Philippians 3 is one my favorite anti-legalistic chapters in the Bible. But when I read it yesterday I read the whole chapter and something stuck out to me towards the end of the chapter.
There Apostle Paul is making a statement such as ‘as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears’. I am not sure if there is any other passage among all the Pauline Epistles where he says something with tears in his eyes. That to me is a sign of great importance of the thing he is talking here. He is talking about the people who lives as the enemies of the cross of Christ whose god is their stomach and their mind is on earthly things. It brought a shiver to my body. Though a child of God, how much I think about the things of this world. How much I am concerned about my well being on this earth, which is destined to ‘pass away’. The psalmist reminds us of some thing about our life here which is worth remembering all the time:

As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.


Going back to the passage in Philippians, Apostle Paul concludes that chapter like this:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

I wish I lived with Apostle Paul in first century. I need somebody to keep on reminding me this all the time. It is not that I want to run away from my responsibilities as a husband, parent or an employee, but I simply want to grow in the grace of God. And often times materialism comes on my way so I keep forgetting that my citizenship is in heaven and I can think more about the things above and of eternal value rather than temporary things on this temporary earth. I keep forgetting the Jesus who said, 'do not be anxious about tomorrow'. It is so easy to tell someone to 'live one day at a time', but it is so hard to do it. Unless I am constantly reminded about the love and grace of God, I will easily drift away from the things of God, to the things of the world. I want to encourage everybody to keep on writing their blogs to encourage each other because people like me desperately needs to be reminded all the time. I like what C.S. Lewis said: 'People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed'.

9 comments:

Nicole's Godblog said...

Bino!

Wow! Great heart-felt thoughts brother. I too struggle with the responsibility list of every single day. It is easy to get caught up in all of that, and that in a way destracts me from why I really live, and what I was put on this earth for. My purpose, in a way, isn't always my top priority and is lost in the running around and doing things constantly. I just recently posted a summary of a book that I just read, called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It is a self-help book and is secular, but I felt Father calling me to read it, and to my surprise, Father is helping me in so many areas in my life. If you have time you should go check it out on my blog! It is about learning how to live in the moment. It may help.... I hope that you will find rest in and through your busy schedule of living in this world. We cannot deny that we live in this world, but remember, we aren't of this world. Big difference brother! You already know this, but it is good to remind like you said!

Love and Freedom, Nicole!

Daelon said...

That passage in Philippians has scared me before too, Bino.

I honestly don't see how you do it. I struggle too with my mind set on earthly things. I'm at home all the time with so many comforts. I do practically nothing but clean and spend time on the internet, playing video games every now and then.

I think maybe these people Paul is talking of are people who care nothing for God's Grace and just want earthly things. Possibly like the people who try to use godliness as a means of getting wealthy.

Grow in the Grace of our God, brother. He is in you is giving you strength.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Nicole,
Sometimes I wish I had more time. I like what Paul said, he has learned to be contented in all circumstances. There involved a learning process. I think, as I go through this phase of my life I will learn certain things and may be after few years when I look back I will realize I have learned.

I will certainly check that out on your blog. After some of my bad experiences in the past I am very careful to pick a self help book now a days. I remember reading Derick Prince's books once and I wanted the gift of exorcism!
Anyways, today I am thankful to God that I am in a much better place.

Matthew,
Thank you for the encouragement. In this day and age it is so easy to get into the trap of materialism. Some churches even preach such things called 'prosperity'. I think it is nothing but materialism. I am out of it. I know the temporary nature of anything we posses on this earth. But once in a while I tend to worry about such things which I think is not that unusual. So I won't dwell there, in fact I want to shift my focus and learn more from Him.

Joel Brueseke said...

Man, I can relate to all of this and I don't know where to start! All around me I see people who are more "successful" than I am - that is, in the work force and financially speaking - and there's been a temptation to want to go along with it. Among my peers who are my age or a little older or a little younger, I think I'm the one who makes the least amount of money. I'm a courier (driver) for a hospital, and I've had this particular job since 1994, with a couple of other jobs thrown in as well.

Sometimes my temptation to want to keep up with others is because sometimes they seem to look down on me, as if they're better than me because they've "advanced." It's as if I want to prove something to them. For example, I am good with computers, and I know I could be a lot better with computers and make a lot more money if I were to go to school. That would show 'em.

However, that's not what God has called me to do. Over the years I've prayed and prayed and sought God about this. I've wanted to "get out" of my low-paying job and do something in which I can pay off all our bills. And/or I've wanted to go into "full time ministry," if you know what I mean. I would love to be able to spend all my time doing what I love, in that respect. Maybe someday... but for now this is truly what the Lord is doing in and through me.

And I think you're so right, that it's a learning process. In fact, before I read your comment, Bino, I was going to say something similar. It took a long time for me to be content being a courier. All along I wanted to be content, but on the inside there was a constant "itch" that said there was "more" to be had. But the "more" isn't what God has for me. If there is something else, God will lead me and guide me as I abide in Him. I'm now much more content because He has made it clear to me over and over again that I'm in the right place. But we're talking about a ten to fifteen year period in which I "fought" with God about this. LOL. =) The contentment has come with time, not with a striving to be content.

I think what has helped me the most is to know that as hard as I might "try," I can't tear myself away from the world or the temptations therein. I was just talking with our Father about this the other day. I was concerned because we just got a big tax refund and I wanted to have a little fun with it! "Fun," for me, means computer upgrades. :) More RAM, a better TV card, etc.

I was thinking, "there are a lot of people starving in this world, and here I am, buying computer stuff that I don't need, but I simply want." Well, it went deeper than that, but my questions were something like, "Should I be giving all this money away?" "How can I get myself to be less concerned with material things and more concerned with the needs of people?" Questions like that.

I think I answered my own question by praying something like, "Father, I know that I don't have the ability in and of myself to give up anything or to make my heart be more aligned to Yours. I can only trust in Your grace, in Your working in and through me as I rest in You."

I mean, I think the answer always comes down to the same thing, and I think I'm "getting" it more and more these days, although I have a lot more learning and growing to do. The answer is Christ. I can't be like Jesus or like my Father by "trying." My heart can't line up with His, and I can't know the deep things of Christ that will set me free to live as He intends, unless I let go of my attempts and I simply rest in Him. This isn't automatic. Again, as you say, it's a learning process, and I'm thankful that God isn't expecting all of these things from me. That is, He's not expecting me to give everything up all at once, but rather He's teaching me day by day, month by month, year by year.

bob said...

Hi Bino

You are blessed brother. You have been shown and recognized another one of the tricks of satan. He uses our "flesh" to make us want the exact thing that Jesus, Paul and John warned us about. My favourite passage is 2 Cor.4:18. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The most important part of any changing we do in our lives is to recognize where we need to change (shown to us by the Spirit). The next thing we need to know is that, in and of ourselves we can do nothing. Only the Spirit can change us as we walk in His Light. Because of the way you write, I know you are walking in Him and He is in you. Throw up your hands in surrender and let Him do the work in you. He is able.
I read constantly because I need to be reminded constantly of who I am in Christ and what He has done and is doing in me.
Don't ever get discouraged (which is what satan wants) but fix your eyes on Jesus because with Him it doesn't matter what you do or don't do, He still loves you and accepts you. When I know that God loves me and accepts me the way I am I don't care what any man thinks of me.

Loved and accepted by my Father
Bob

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Joel, I feel much better after reading your comments. Wow! Thank you for being so vulnerable and authentic.
The world measure ‘success’ in a totally different scale. I think when Jesus said, ‘you will have trouble in this world’ he also meant the trouble of being tempted to be successful in a worldly measure.
I have heard some people say that the money itself is not evil; it is the ‘love of money’ which is evil. Come on! Unless we have a love of money, how are going to accumulate a lot of money? (Unless it wasn’t inherited). I admit that I have often been tempted to make more money. Then I will remind myself that, I follow a ‘kingdom culture’ not a worldly culture where everything is defined on the basis of money.

I know what you are saying about ‘full time ministry’. At some point I too wanted to go to seminary and acquire a theology degree. Now that desire is not that strong in me because, as time went on, I have learned that a seminary degree may not be able to help me in growing in grace which is my primary desire now, rather it may add some puffed up knowledge which can be a hindrance in my grace walk.
If I am given a job where I can read, write and talk all day about God’s love and grace, that’s the job I would really enjoy :). But as of now, I have no such luxury.

I think I have learned something from what you said, But the "more" isn't what God has for me. If there is something else, God will lead me and guide me as I abide in Him. I wish I had that attitude.

I surely can relate to what you said about spending the tax return. I have a big compassion towards the people live in poverty but to be honest I haven’t done much in that regard though I could. I am like ‘let me wait for the right opportunity’ or ‘what if they don’t use the money for the right purpose’. SO I keep pushing it for another opportunity, when another opportunity comes again my thought process kicks in.

I can very well pray the same prayer you prayed, "Father, I know that I don't have the ability in and of myself to give up anything or to make my heart be more aligned to Yours. I can only trust in Your grace, in Your working in and through me as I rest in You."

I admit I long for quick solutions, but most of the great solutions don’t come quickly. It takes time, may be months, years or decades and the one thing we shouldn’t forget is to enjoy the love and life of Christ in the mean time.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Bob,

You quoted one of the beautiful verses in the Bible (2 Cor.4:18).

For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

How true! Thank you for reminding me this.

The next thing we need to know is that, in and of ourselves we can do nothing.

I absolutely loved what you said here. Joel in his comments was talking the same thing and I was responding to him the same thing and now that Father has confirmed that to me! I knew that I had no power to abstain from sin but somehow I always thought that may be I can do certain things to shift my focus from ‘things seen’ to the ‘things unseen’. I now recognize the problem in that thinking. I have no strength in an of myself to do that but as you said, He is able.

Throw up your hands in surrender and let Him do the work in you.

Yes, that’s is exactly what I need to do - surrender.

Thank you so much for your encouragement!

Nicole's Godblog said...

Bino!

Wise words brother. I think it is smart to face everything with wisdom and discernment from what Father is showing you. I am usually not the one to just read any book, in fact, I hardly read. So, this happened because I was only led to and encouraged to read and even finish this book! Thanks by the way, for your wisdom filled words about A New Earth... My mom was also saying that she will hardly pick up anything that is not Christian to read, but I asked her, would you if Father wanted you too?! Just a thought!

I hope you find time to think on things above even if you are busy brother! Thanks for being real!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Joel Brueseke said...

This talk of surrender and not being able to do things with our own abilities reminded me of chapter 2 of the Grace Walk book. It's entitled "Darkness Before Dawn." Steve talks about things such as surrender, self-sufficient living, and even how our abilities can end up being liabilities.

The "surrender" aspect of my life in Christ didn't really phase me the first time or two that I read the book. In fact I think that when I read it the third time, I was amazed that the word "surrender" was even in there, because I just hadn't "gotten" it before. However, after having gone through some stuff in my own grace walk, it means a whole lot more now!