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.