Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Take up this Challenge

Well, don’t get me wrong by reading the title. I am not going to give a challenge for you to take up; instead I like to write about the problem in ‘taking up the challenges’.
Once in a while I listen to a preacher (I don’t want to mention his name, just understand that this is a charismatic preacher of a mega church in Texas) when I come across him in a local channel on Sunday mornings. Though there is not an ounce of grace, I like to enjoy the fun in his preaching as he gives ‘spiritual capsules’ to his people. One day his challenge was ‘always put a smile on your face’. It sounded like a good idea and I thought since there is no money involved and if it can make the people around me happy, why don’t I try that? Next day I went to my office with this unusual smile on my face (imagine the smile of Mr. Bean!). Well, unfortunately I could keep that smile only till noon, and then I gave up. I failed! It wasn't just the artificial smile faded away but I also suffered some 'side effects' as well by feeling miserable that I failed. It made my face more uglier. I couldn’t be successful in a simple ‘challenge’ like putting a smile on my face! (BTW, I admire the people who naturally have a smile on their face but I just don't have it, so I tried).

Here is something I have learned from my own life: Every time I put a ‘conscious effort’ to do something or not to do something, I fail miserably! I have proved this over and over a thousand times but still I am tempted to do such things. Isn’t that interesting? If I can’t tame my ‘flesh’ to do such a simple thing, how am I going to tame it to be a ‘happy, problem-free, devotional Christian’?

I have heard someone saying this:

I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

Huh? Who is this ‘backslidden, sinful, miserable Christian’? Looks like he is in danger and in need of some Christian counseling or probably join an accountability group to straighten up his acts.

But regardless of all the advice of 'well trained demons.. sorry.. deacons', he went on saying this:

When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Shhhhhhhhhh........ It is one thing that you have problem, but at least don't say it in public! Don't you know that you are a 'Christian'?

Is he a hopeless case? I would have thought so, if he didn’t say this:

Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

[P.S: If someone wants to take up this challenge to put a smile on you face always, please go ahead and try it. I give you all the 'authority' to use the comments section of this blog to record the individual results.]

4 comments:

Walking Church said...

~8)

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i give up...giggle...good post Bino! Today I am going work on being grumpy. Ya..

Nicole's Godblog said...

Hey! Good Post!

Always remember, turning that frown upside down is harder than it looks sometimes, and thats okay! But we all know IT can be done!

In Freedom, Nicole!

bob said...

Hi Bino

Amazing you should write what you did, when you did. Yesterday I received a DVD and pictures from Amalapuram, India. It was a video of the annual New Year's celebration at the orphanage and home for widows that I support.

As you may be able to tell from my picture on my blog, I am a person who smiles a lot and it is natural for me to smile (BTW - please don't admire me for that, it is God in me that makes me smile, please admire Him. Notice what I wrote under my picture on my blog)so when I see people who don't smile I always wonder why.
As I looked at the pictures and watched the video, the very fist thing I noticed (and my wife noticed it too) was that nobody (except a few of the young children) was smiling.
My first thought was that maybe it was a cultural thing. Later in the video a few people smiled as they received gifts and were saying thank you.

You wrote, "Here is something I have learned from my own life: Every time I put a ‘conscious effort’ to do something or not to do something, I fail miserably! I have proved this over and over a thousand times but still I am tempted to do such things. Isn’t that interesting? If I can’t tame my ‘flesh’ to do such a simple thing, how am I going to tame it to be a ‘happy, problem-free, devotional Christian’?"

Again, you are in good company. You will never tame the flesh. All you might do is change your outward performance.
I read about a woman who was very mean to her servants while professing to be a Christian (this was in China in the '30s as told by Watchman Nee). She used to yell and scream at them all the time. One of her friends suggested that a Christian shouldn't act like that, so she worked on her performance. After a few months, she quit yelling and screaming at her servants. When her friend visited next time she noticed and commented on the fact that the woman didn't scream and yell at her servants any more. The woman admitted that although she didn't scream and yell any more outwardly(a decision made in the flesh and practiced through discipline), she was still filled with rage and anger inwardly and wanted to scream and yell at them.
Did this woman change? Not really.

Only God through His Holy Spirit can REALLY change us and He can only do that as we quit trying and give it to Him.

The best (really the only) thing we can do is believe and rest in Him. There we will find everything we are looking for. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindnesss, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and (yes even) self-control. However, to say we will be happy and problem-free is pushing it. We are still human (fleshly) so until we get to heaven you might as well get used to it. It doesn't maybe sound all that encouraging but just think what your life would be like without Jesus.
So please be encouraged brother. You are right where God wants you - in Him.

Be blessed while you rest
Bob

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

WC,

Good try!
Thats exactly the point I was trying to make.

Nicole,

My point was it cannot be done by 'me'. When I am making a 'conscious effort', I am trying to be perfected in the energy of my flesh; which will be either failure or a 'short' success. Jesus loves me for the face I have today, I don't have to try to change it. When I try the result is either self pity (failure) or pride (success).

Bob,

I chuckled when I read "It looks like me, but it's really Him.". But you know it makes perfect sense.

Yes, I will never be able to tame the flesh. As long as I am breathing, I am going to have that 'flesh' hanging there. I have heard someone saying, if you want to achieve sinless perfection, pray for death.

The story you quoted was good. She didn't change, she only 'modified' her behavior. It is sad that people (Christians) spend their lifetime to perfect their flesh without realizing that they are already perfected by God when they put their faith in Him.

I will close with the same words you said:

Only God through His Holy Spirit can REALLY change us and He can only do that as we quit trying and give it to Him.

Quit trying is the KEY!