Monday, June 30, 2008


Are we sure that we can live in peace regardless of our circumstances? The knowledge of the love of my Father gives me a quite strength which I can't possibly explain using my vocabulary. But that doesn't mean that I am at peace irrespective of life situations. Life easily affects my sensitive mood and I can be totally restless sometimes. Sometimes I think may be it is money, people, material possessions, health what makes people really content. Then I will realize it is not.

I see myself going in this loop: trust - falling from trust - worry. When I am not trusting my Father for EVERYTHING, I am worrying. There is no in-between, either I am trusting or worrying. And what is frustrating to me is that it wouldn't take a split of second to lose my trust. BTW, I am not talking about faith. I am talking about trust.

It's interesting that I wrote about perfectionism a week ago and soon after that my kids were sick. It knocked my perfectionism real hard and put me in a 'mess'. My schedules were ruined, my peace was troubled.
But I thank God that He gave me an opportunity to 're-think', to slow down. It also tells me that there is nothing, absolutely nothing is in 'my' control. It wouldn't take more than few minutes to be in situations where we feel that we are 'powerless'.

The entire life I see as a 'variable' and if that variable is not built on a 'constant', it's going to be shaky. I call that 'constant' trusting Jesus.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Prayer Request

I would like to request your prayers for both my kids as they are being sick for a week now. It started out with my son with some ulcer kind of sores in his mouth which eventually spread all over his mouth and tongue along with inflammation of the gums and high fever. After two days, my daughter started showing the same symptoms and in her case it got much severe.

Doctor initially thought this was a usual summer time viral infection, but at the same time they did a culture and the results came today. According to them, it is called a Herpetic Stomatitis

It is extremely painful and they have extreme difficulty in swallowing food/drink. My daughter was almost dehydrated at one point.

Though they expect to have a full recovery in about 2 weeks, we were asked to keep checking their eyes since there is a possibility of secondary infection which can lead to many complications (in the eyes).

Pls. keep them (Jessica and Jonathan) in your prayers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I have a problem (as if I have only one problem!): I wait for everything to be perfected. I am ready to contribute any measure of my energy to achieve perfection in anything I do. This includes handling of mails, medical records, bills, other important documents, bible study, prayer, order of house hold items and the list goes on.

I think I should give few examples:

1. Unless there is a 'perfect' plan, I hesitate to do things such as travel, barbecue, picnic... (My perfectionism usually ruins the fun.)
2. Normal schedule/timings of daily life has to be planned and executed as planned.
3. Spending of money.
4. Disciplining kids and wife (!).

You get the picture. I am a control-freak! The irony is I hate other control-freaks!

This spirit of perfectionism demands my mind, peace, time and energy.

I love the way Jesus dealt with the messy people, but I find myself failing to donate my time towards something which is not in my 'schedule'. I want to visit some people, but if it messes my normal life schedule, I hesitate.

One thing I know for sure, this spirit is not of God. Because God says, 'do not worry about tomorrow'. Live one day at a time. Do not be anxious. Live in the present moment. I do this some times but then I fall into the stinking perfectionism again...aaarg!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Without ‘works’ (?) it is impossible to please God (???)

It is so easy to learn how not to walk by faith. Just attend a church and listen to all the Christian principles preached.
I don’t blame them because it is so hard to teach someone to walk by faith. Walking by faith is an individual, personal, intimate but crucial decision an individual individually takes and exercises.

Faith is possible only when Love is understood and believed. We cannot conjure-up any faith by our own. Whatever comes as our own is not faith, but work.

Yes, faith requires our will to be exercised, but it is still a gift, because Love is a gift.

“While we were yet sinners, He loved us…”

“faith comes by hearing…”

Hearing what? About the love of God, in Christ Jesus.

If faith is the only thing what pleases God, I don’t understand why are we so quick to give the ’10 things to do as a Christian’ to people?
If faith is what gives us the ability to lose control over our life, why are we still teaching all the principles to take things into our own hands? And then later realize that we could control nothing in our lives and doom into depression!

“Apart from me you could do NOTHING.”

Faith is believing that Jesus forgave us 100%. Faith is believing it is He who lives, not I. Faith is believing God is in control in ALL situations. Faith is believing He is faithful to complete the work He started in us.
Faith is believing that we can sit down and rest as He rested from His own works.

...and it is that faith what pleases God!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Change We Can Believe In"

I bought my first digital camera in 2001, which was a Sony point and shoot model. I wasn’t married at that time, so I had a lot of extra time and I used to go to places such as parks and shopping malls with my friend, just to take pictures. We took hundreds and hundreds of pictures and I remember I used to get so thrilled when I downloaded them to my computer. In my own opinion, all those pictures looked so good. No worries about spending money on film roles and running out of them, if I don’t like one picture, delete it! Though the camera was one of the beginning model of it’s series, it had a lot of options such as different shooting modes – beach/landscape, contrast, exposure, AF illumination, standard/fine, different flash modes, image size etc. The fact is I never tried changing any of those settings. I used only the default settings it came in and I thought that gave me the best pictures. I didn’t know I was wrong until I bought my current camera about an year ago and tried different things. I deliberately changed so many settings (though I didn't want to) and experimented with it and guess what, I started learning to take some pretty cool pictures. And it motivated me to read the user's manual further to learn all the tiny, but effective changes we can make by changing various settings.

Why was I so hesitant to change the settings on my first camera? I was afraid! Fear of failure. I didn’t have the guts to experiment. I didn’t want to interrupt the smooth usage with the default settings. I didn’t pursue the unknowns. I was just comfortable with my ‘safe zone’. So, I missed a lot of cool features in it.

This is not just a story of a piece of electronic equipment. This is so true in all the aspects of our life. We all get excited about change, but hate to try it ourselves. I think in business world, they use a term ‘change management’, a department dedicated to help people to get adapted to the organizational changes. Why do they need a department itself for that purpose? Because people are usually reluctant to adapt the changes in processes and principles.

My spiritual life was pretty comfortable with the religious activities. While bound in religion, though I had many questions, I didn’t pursue them. I was fearful of opposition, challenges and leaving my comfort zone.
Understanding of God’s grace motivated me, but I was still fearful. I wrestled with hundreds of questions in my mind. How can I challenge one of the major denomination’s doctrines? How can I speak against something which millions and millions of people believe? What if I am wrong?

But the love of God, eventually took over my life. It brought me to a point where there is no going back, where thrill and joy are much higher than fear. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and abandoned me in the wild. Yes, I was scared first, but again it took my hand and made me to pursue. Wow! What a journey! I wouldn't trade this for anything. I haven't reached any where but the journey itself is amazing, each step is something new! Everything has new meaning. "Rest" has a new meaning. "Serving God' has a different meaning. "Love of God" has different meaning. "Grace" itself has different meaning.

Grace brings change, not like the changes politicians offer. This change is a change from inside out, sometimes rapidly, some times slowly but either way a change which lasts. Yes there is a lot of discomfort sometimes, but it is still worth it. Yes, there is pain, rejection, ridicule, loneliness, calling of names such as “law breaker”, but it is still worth it.

I am less afraid of facing unanswered questions. I am less afraid of changing the "setting" and failing in my walk with God. Also, I want to explore the 'owner's manual' much further in the new perspective, in the light of Grace. I am learning all the more everyday, way more than I have learned for so many years in religion and I am excited.

Grace is the change we can believe in and I love this change!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Modern phenomena – spiritual mysticism

During my charismatic days, though I have experienced some of the so called “presence of God”, I have always always have had doubts about the genuine intervention of Holy Spirit in those meetings.

Our minds have enormous capacity to stretch-out and make imaginations real. All we need is an external force such as, another person, music, intense prayers etc. I have personally witnessed some of the Hindu religious mystic acts such as the things they do to invite the “presence of God”. They play some musical instruments such as drums in high intensity along with some other high pitching organs combined with wild dancing. As the organs go from slow to high pitch, the dance intensifies and within minutes, the people who are dancing can become as though they are “drunk”. At this point some of them start screaming, yelling, laughing and cursing. Few of them fall on the ground and crawl. Others, who are watching them believe those who are “influenced” of the “spirit” (spirit of their god), are like gods themselves. So the onlookers start worshiping these people. And to be honest, as someone who is watching them, I have felt some electricity going through my body at times. Remember, as a traditional orthodox Christian (at that time), I never intended to participate in a Hindu religious ceremony in any way or fashion. All I wanted to do was to watch them. Though I never danced or anything, I have felt “something” in my body and I am convinced that it was caused by the intensity of the music, and the mystical influence of others who are dancing around me like maniacs. Most of such ceremonies are done at night. The component of darkness adds "power" to the entire service. Believe me, darkness has some mystic power.

What exactly is happening here? While I am not totally eliminating the influence of evil spirits, we should also remember that our minds (emotions/feelings) can dramatically be influenced by external forces such as man-made environments/atmosphere. For example, most of us can feel sad when we listen to a sad music. That is just the way our emotions/feelings would respond.

Well, I do not see much difference in a modern-day Charismatic meeting (sadly). One of the challenging questions I had in mind was, how come the catholic charismatic groups (who do not even believe in salvation by faith), are experiencing the same phenomena as the protestant charismatics? The answer I got was, Catholics are experiencing evil spirits (Satan coming as the messenger of light), but ours is genuinely Holy Spirit!

There are other examples as well, such as wild tribal dances etc. Obviously they are all "evil spirits" and ours is "holy spirit". Well, I am sorry but I doubt!

I read a post by Naked Pastor recently which addresses a similar issue in a challenging way. You can find that post here: Flesh and Spirit.

Again, my intention here is not to offend anyone but to challenge our understanding of the “presence of God”. In the light of Gospel and New Covenant, "Presence of God" is Holy Spirit dwelling in a believer. Once we become partakers of divine nature, the Spirit dwells in us permanently. We don't keep inviting Him again and again as though we don't believe in the indwelling of God in us. According to John 1:12, Spirit comes in us (who are dead in our sins), regenerates us and makes us His children when we believe on Jesus Christ and receives Him, not when we create an "atmosphere". The only atmosphere for Spirit is faith, not material arrangements and events. By faith we receive Him once. And when He comes into our life, He comes in 100%, He won't leave some of His presence outside for us to "invite" later. He won't keep going in and out either.

I am well aware of the mysteries surrounding godliness. In fact I recently wrote about it and I still hold on to that. What I am talking here is totally different. It is more about the abuse of spiritual gifts and the emotional mysticism a person can easily fall into (I too was a victim once). Our mind has huge capacity for imaginations, but all our imaginations wouldn’t stand against the scrutiny of the scripture. There is also a component of "human spirit", means other humans (and objects) can influence our mind, some times in weird ways.

There is no place for “mind tricks” in biblical New Testament. New Testament is all about TRUTH. We cannot and shouldn’t take portions of scripture out of context forgetting the centrality of the entire Bible which is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Miracles, supernatural manifestations, healing, exorcism etc cannot set us free. Only truth can set us free.

When it comes to the relationship with God, what matters the most is nothing but “faith expressing itself through love”, not so much the "show" side of it. We are living in an age of deception. All kinds of deception, all around us. And the way we stand against such deceptions is by constantly renewing our mind with TRUTH. Again, there are no mind tricks in TRUTH. It is the truth what gives us the ability to discern and distinguish what is from the Spirit and what is from the flesh.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mysterious love

Considering the mysteries of godliness, in a sense, I am an agnostic.

The truth regarding Christ and the salvation He offers (the mystery of gospel) has been revealed. I agree. But the mysteries of unanswered prayers, fleshly desires, pain, sickness, tragedies, the extend of God’s love, fore-knowledge, prophecies, spiritual gifts etc. are puzzling. I have tried to come-up with dogmatic explanations on these subjects but was never satisfied intellectually. As I pursued answers, I found more questions. So, eventually, just to keep my proper dogmatic religious position, I bypassed, ignored, and rejected the difficult questions. I started disliking those questions and the people who asked them. Questions scared me!

Grace taught me a new thing: It is perfectly alright to have unanswered questions.

So, now after much struggle with my brain, I am kind of satisfied with the unanswered questions surrounding spirituality. And, by doing so, the mystery is always alive in my heart and at the same time, I am not anxious about all the answers. “I don’t know” is my answer to many of these questions.

I think that is the point. Love overtakes mysteries. Love soothes troubled hearts, not so much with the answers, but with the peace which surpasses the abilities of human brain. God’s love satisfies our curiosity in a mysterious (there that word again!) way. I don’t know how, but I know that it is a fact. I am at peace with my questions. I still have thousands of them, but I am not afraid.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

Love answers all the questions! Knowledge without love is meaningless. Love allows us to have questions. Love is not scared. Love can answer them all! ... in a mysterious way!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fear of God

Few years ago, as part of my religious church activities to 'please' God, a friend of mine and I decided to start a website to proclaim the 'good news' and we ironically named it ‘graceisgiven’. We had the website registered and hosted. Now we are faced with an issue, what are we going to put on the site? Many ideas came such as cartoons, pictures, bible study materials etc. I also asked some of my churchmates to write articles which I could post on the website. Finally, my friend wrote the first article called: ‘The fear of God’.

He did a pretty good job in compiling all the terrorizing verses from both the OT and NT to establish the fact that we really should be shivering to approach this unapproachable god. He even mentioned to me that his motivation for living a 'morally acceptable' life is the fear of God. Hmm...

But, (thankfully!) we could not carry on that project much further and it eventually stopped.

It is a saddening fact that millions and millions in the church living in the bondage of fear of God. In fear, there is no freedom. Fear is the opposite of love. So, the question is, in the light of New Covenant established by the death of Christ Jesus, what is the nature of fear in our relationship with God?

The idea of wrathful, angry, devastating god was not foreign to me. Though the New Testament consistently presents us a Graceful, radically loving God again and again, page after page, I hesitated to accept it. One reason I loved this angry, wrathful god is that I could use the same god to terrorize others forcing them to accept my belief system unless they want to burn in hell. It gave me manipulating skills and powers to generate fear. I enjoyed terrorizing others. Call me sadistic!

Forget all the theology (for a moment), forget the difference between OT and NT, forget grace theology, forget freedom from law, I want to ask a question: After meditating a little bit on the account of the crucifixion of Jesus, remembering the ridicule, pain and agony He went through, the cry He cried, the curse He became, the forgiveness He granted to the ones tortured Him, the salvation He granted to the criminal on the cross, the way He was silent in front of the accusers, the blood He shed, the crown of thorns he wore, how could we, how could we even possibly come up with the idea that He (God) is someone to be afraid of?

To the ones who still struggle to balance the mercy and justice of God, I have news for you: Yes, God Jehovah is a just God, He can’t leave the sins unpunished, He is wrathful towards sin, and His wrath is beyond our imagination. BUT, lets not forget the history. He poured His entire wrath towards sin on His own Son. He punished Him till death. He made Him a curse, He made Him a sin, He made Him to go through shame, He silenced Him, He caused Him to sweat blood. And thus, He fulfilled His own requirement/law: without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. And finally said : “IT IS FINISHED”. And He meant it.

The glory which was hidden behind the curtain due to our sin, was revealed to us (the ordinary) by tearing the curtain from top to bottom, thus opening a way for us to go into the throne of grace with courage. So, let us please stop spitting on His face again and again by wrongfully accusing Him that He is still keeping His wrath in His heart. He is done with it. Now it is upto us whether we want to accept this or reject this. If our unbelief causes us to reject this absolute truth of God's provision of forgiveness for the entire humanity, all we can expect is to be continually afraid of him. And we know, fear casts out love.

Now, by removing the factor of fear from the equation of God, does it make Him a mere human, powerless? Shouldn’t we fear Him at all?

Yes, but there is a totally different dimension.

Today, I fear God not because of the terror involved, but because of the mystery involved, the mystery of Christ in us. It is the mystery of His hiding nature (from our sight), the spirit nature what makes me wonder. It is the idea of 'faith' (things unseen) what puts me in awe. I fear I might find Him in the most unlikely places. May be in my loneliness, or may be even in my sin. I fear Him not because He is unapproachable, but I fear Him because He is so approachable beyond any comprehension of human mind. I fear Him not because of His wrath, I fear Him because of His love. I fear Him not because of His justice, but because of His mercy. This fear is not like the fear religion uses to terrorize people. This fear is the fear of acceptance of our spirit in the midst of total sinfulness of our flesh. Yes, I am little scared of the fact that He will still love me in the midst of all my sins, mess, doubts and confusion. I don't know why I call it 'fear'. Almost always, in my encounters with Him, my fear turns into wonder and awe with a "What a God!" exclamation.

How can I not fear Him when He loves me unconditionally? How can I not fall on my face when He calls me a ‘Saint’? How can I not scream the biggest “THANK YOU” at the top of my lungs in a joyful fear when He calls me ‘righteous’? How can I not adore Him in fearful excitement when He calls me His friend?

I am talking about the God of the universe!