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)