Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What He is to me

I got this in an email from a dear sister. I thought it is worth sharing...

What He is to me?

He is the First and Last,
The Beginning and the End!

He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be ...
unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone!

He was bruised and brought healing!
He was pierced and eased pain!
He was persecuted and brought freedom!
He was dead and brought life!
He is risen and brings power!
He reigns and brings Peace!
The world can't understand him,
The armies can't defeat Him,
The schools can't explain Him, and The leaders can't ignore Him.
Herod couldn't kill Him, The Pharisees couldn't confuse Him, and The people couldn't hold Him!
Nero couldn't crush Him, Hitler couldn't silence Him,
The New Age can't replace Him, and "Oprah" can't explain Him away!

He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure.

His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me.
He is my Savior,
He is my guide, and He is my peace!
He is my Joy,
He is my comfort,
He is my Lord, and He rules my life!

I serve Him because His bond is love,
His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life.

I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise,
the power of the powerful,
the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomers, and is to come. And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size.

His goal is a relationship with ME!
He will never leave me,
never forsake me,
never mislead me,
never forget me,
never overlook me and
never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!

When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!
When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I am broken, He mends me!
When I am blind, He leads me!
When I am hungry, He feeds me!
When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face persecution, He shields me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home!

He is everything for everybody everywhere, every time, and every way.

He is God, He is faithful. I am His, and He is mine!

My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world.
So, if you're wondering why I feel so secure, understand this...

He said it and that settles it.
God is in control, I am on His side,
and that means all is well with my soul.

Everyday is a blessing for GOD Is!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gift of Pain

What if there wasn't any pain in this world? What if humans, animals and birds didn't have the ability to feel pain? At the surface, we might think that it would be wonderful to live a totally pain-free life. But is it so?

Few years ago, I read a book called "Gift of Pain", written by Dr. Paul Brand, who was a medical doctor and a missionary to India and worked amongst people suffered from leprosy. Leprosy starts with the symptom of losing one's ability to feel the sense of touch and a corresponding inability to feel pain and temperature.

What happens if you lose the ability to feel pain? You will injure yourself badly. You will get disfigured by self-amputation. The damaged bodies of lepers are mostly a result of self-inflicted injuries (i.e stepping on nails, touching something too hot). As part of the treatment, Dr. Brand offered custom-built footwear for the patients to wear all the time, so that they won't self-inflict injuries.

Though the book starts with the premise of bodily pain, it goes beyond that into emotional pain and spiritual truths as well. It is the first time my perspective shifted to see pain from a different angle - pain as a gift. I agree, no one likes pain, yet if you think, isn't pain a gift?

What if we didn't feel any pain when relationships are broken? What if we have a numbing insensitivity towards death, rejection, unforgiveness, hatred and ridicule? Would we ever appreciate life, acceptance, forgiveness, love and peace?

I think pain is essential. Life, with all its challenges is a gift. Without pain, I think, we wouldn't even know we have a valuable, beautiful life. Can you imagine living in a pain-free, fallen world? We would easily endanger ourselves. In a world filled with a million ways of instant-gratifications and easy methods of escapism from sufferings by depending so much on pain killers and mind-numbing chemicals to alter our thinking, have we ever thought that there might be a purpose for the existence of pain? And there might be a solution beyond the mere painlessness?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How grace destroyed my prayer life.

My prayer usually started with "My loving father in heaven" for a long time. Eventually I got bored with that salutation, so I tried few others such as "My precious Father", "Our loving gracious Father in heaven" or simply "Lord Jesus". I was taught that quoting Scriptures while praying is very effective. In other words, we might get more action from God if we claim things which he had promised in the Scriptures but have forgotten to give to us.

Every time, during the family prayer in the evening, I wanted to make sure my kids followed the Christian discipline of sitting in full attention with their eyes closed. I was proud of being a perfect Christian Dad, making sure even our 2 year old followed my strict prayer-time discipline.

Depending on who is present, most of my public prayers were directed to them, kind of using the prayer time to preach to them or to show off my religiosity. After all, that’s the only time they are forced to be silent and listen to me. When my parents (who are not protestant Christians) are present, I threaten them through my prayer about the countless punishments God is going to send on them if they don't accept my belief system. My conscious effort there was to prove them wrong and prove me right.

Depending on whom I am praying with, my prayer changed. I pray the most hypocritical prayer if there are unbelievers around. In the midst of super hyper believers, I pray as if I am also super hyper like them. You know, praying for the souls perishing all over the world? I knew how to add a touch of unbearable pain to the tone of my prayer to make it more dramatic.

Do you want to add more excitement and power to your prayer? Add more loud "Hallelujahs".

In short, my public prayer was a show and my private prayer was mostly a laundry list of things I thought I couldn't live without.

Grace destroyed all this drama and made it unbelievably simple. I can't believe I did all that for so many years. I feel embarrassed. Now when I pray, I hardly know that I am praying. It is like talking to a real person. It's a joyful occasion of tremendous freedom, peace and love. I don't mind talking silly things to Him. Now I don't necessarily want anyone around when I pray because I know that my prayer might sound very silly and child-like; mostly do not make any sense to the people who don't know where I am coming from.

And I think that's ok.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Let's not keep the common sense aside

I have been listening to the 'growing in grace' podcasts a lot lately. In more than one episodes, I heard Mike Kapler saying, "let's not keep the common sense aside". He says that especially when it comes to obedience and keeping the law.

I think, being honest to ourselves is all it takes to come to the conclusion that religion doesn't work. It doesn't matter which religion it is. Each has its own 'ways' to please their god. For some, their god is pleased when they follow certain set of rules, laws, regulations or a list of do's and don'ts. Some gods are pleased when we gather at particular place at a particular time of a week. Some are pleased when we chant some prayers or starve through fasting. Some are pleased when we put some dollar bills into an offering plate. Some are pleased when we confess all our sins.

I am not excluding Christian religion from this. Christians says their god is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is a perfectly holy god. He is self-sufficient. That being the case, isn't it a futile act attempting to please that god through our puny works? Who in their right mind can logically come to a conclusion that they can somehow please god through all these? Not just that, some people think that they can make god angry! As though god has an emotional imbalance or something- easily angered, easily provoked but somehow hard to please.

I feel stupid for believing such a lie for a long time in my life. I thought my god would be pleased when I achieve sinless perfection. I thought I was pleasing him when I did the works of evangelism. I thought, the more I studied the Bible, he is more pleased. The more I set apart a 'quiet time', I thought I can somehow tap into his presence. I thought I could manipulate god through 'effective' prayer (by quoting scriptures, for example). I thought god was a genie who comes out and bless me when I give my money. I kept doing all these for years and years even though I never felt contented nor reached a satisfying point in my life to boldly say that I pleased him. I tried to do all the right things and tried not to do any wrong things to keep god from getting angry at me. But I always felt that I fall short. So, I successfully hid my burned out heart from others.

For a long time in my life, I lived an illogical spiritual life. I kept my common sense aside and listened and followed other illogical spiritual leaders out there. I wasn't even honest to myself. I pretended as if my spirituality was working.

Then there came a time in my life that I had to take a step back and look at the foolishness of my belief system. Trying to achieve sinless perfection? Trying to earn forgiveness through confessing all my sins on a daily basis? Trying to keep the law? Trying to love my neighbors as myself? Trying to love the enemies? Are you kidding?

I didn't know that James said, "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." Will I ever be accepted by this god? Will I ever be able to say that I confessed all my sins that I am now fully forgiven? Will I ever feel the security of god's love? Will I ever feel any kind of security, contentment or peace?

If you don't cheat in answering those questions, if you can be honest to yourself, the only thing you can do is - give up! That’s true - just give up!

That’s where my journey started. I fist gave up, then God took over…

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's new?

I am tremendously blessed by the love and encouragement I received from my brothers and sisters through comments to my last post, emails, FB messages etc. I want to thank each one of you from the bottom of my heart. I also want to thank Jesus for this on-line community I am part of. Though its electronic and 2 dimensional, blogging and facebooking are already a huge part of my life now.

In the last post, I mentioned about a pending job opportunity. I want to update everyone that It has worked out in my favor. After a lengthy process (background check etc) and a lot of paper work, on Monday I started on the new job at Ford Motor Company. It's been only 2 days, but so far I like it. Just like any new job, there are times I feel stupid and clueless :). But I think I will get over it as I get the clearer picture of the tasks I have to do in the coming days. I am excited about this opportunity and kind of eager to work.

So, thats the good news!

I like to add something I read over at Joel's blog as an encouragement to those who are currently unemployed and struggling in various ways:

There's nothing going on that God's not aware of. He's in us, He is our life.

He's someone who is conscious about us all the time - inclined toward us all the time - and ever aware of what we're thinking, feeling, saying, doing, being, wanting, contemplating, desiring...

I believe it. Our God is not passive (though sometimes we feel so). He is always holding us in His hands. We are safe, secured and He will turn things into our favor at the end. We may not know how. But He will.

Once again, thank you all and I love you all.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I am still here.

It's been over a month since I have written anything here. The truth is I didn't have much to share and I didn't feel like doing posts religiously. My primary source of encouragement and spiritual food is usually books and I haven't been reading a lot lately. Reading is what usually keep my mind alive and helps me to focus and stretch my thinking a little.

On September 30th, I became officially unemployed and my wife is unemployed since Aug 30. So in the past few weeks we were spending a lot of our time and energy to upgrade our skills set, posting resumes, attending calls etc. To get a job in this economy, especially here in Motor city, we ought to be very competitive because there are not many hiring and those who hire, hire only the best of the best.

On the otherside, the whole ordeal has been very humbling and it gives me time to reflect upon the lives of people who are struggling without job. It helps me to slow down and spend more time with kids. I am not 'on the go' all the time now.

There are couple of options (contract positions) pending for me which I will have more clarity next week. So I am still waiting. If everything goes well, I will have some official confirmation sometime next week. I don't know what God has in store for me. I will post an update later next week.

I also find myself picking books back again since last week. I am currently reading "Loving our kids on purpose" by Danny Silk, which I am liking very much. It's about parenting from a grace-perspective - love, trust and freedom; just the contrary to much of the worldly parenting principles. I am glad it's not a 'how-to' book.

Thats all for now. Thank you all for the prayers, thoughts and encouragements. I have a lot of unread blog posts in my google reader and I am planning on catching up some of my blog reading in the coming days. Much love, grace and peace to you all.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Shame masquerading as humility

I am currently reading John Eldredge's "Waking the dead". (A great book, by the way). In it, John made a statement which goes something like this, "Most of the 'christian humility' we see today is nothing but shame masquerading as humility".

Somehow, we are just not ready to accept our goodness, the gift we received from God. The shame created by sin, is still impacting our self-image. I think our biggest fear is that, we think if we unleash our goodness, we may become prideful. So to combat pride, we find a way to tie ourselves at the foot of shame. We call it humility and then we act 'humble'. Talk about bondage!

Saint Iraneus's famous quote "The glory of God is man fully alive", in my opinion, is very biblical. After all, Jesus came to give us Life. "I have come that you may have Life", "I am the way, the truth and the Life". It glorifies God when we receive that life and become fully alive. It also glorifies God, when we fearlessly live that life to the full potential. That is not pride. It's living a life which reflects the glory of God. It is living just like who we truly are - "partakers of the divine nature".

Friday, August 28, 2009

Some thoughts on prayer.

These are some of my current thoughts on prayer (Some might find it very radical but this where I currently stand. There is no claim that these are accurate but I am open for disagreements/opinions):

I do not believe prayer changes things. I don't believe in phrases like 'earnest prayer', 'pray hard' etc. I do not believe there is any magic in prayer. I also do not believe that one person's prayer is more effective than the other person. I don't believe in 'prayer chains'. I don't believe in those websites where you can post prayer requests. I don't believe in requesting prayer anonymously. I don't believe in praying for the nation, politicians etc. I don't believe in those toll free numbers (e.g: 1-800-PRAYER) where you can call and ask the phone attender to pray for something. I don't believe in 'unspoken' prayer requests, where you don't actually know what the request is but asked to pray blindly.

I don't believe group prayer has more strength than individual prayer. I don't believe pastor's prayer has more effect than the congregant's prayer. I don't believe in those books about 'How to pray?'. I don't believe in 'prayer warriors'. I don't believe the elders prayer is more effective than the youngsters. I don't believe that the people who pray more are more spiritual. I don't believe in praying in tongues.

I have heard people saying "It's my prayer what brought him/her to Christ". I don't believe it. I have heard people saying "It's because of our earnest fasting and prayer that he/she is healed.". Again, I do not believe that. I don't believe that prayer is more effective when we quote Scriptures. I don't believe that the various problems in life (sickness, finance problems, job loss, sins, relationship problems etc) are due to a lack of good prayer life.

I don't believe in religiously praying before each meal, travel etc. I don't believe that the evening 'family prayer' is what keeps a family from falling apart. I do not believe God answers all prayers. I do not believe that God is obligated to answer our prayers. I do not believe the prayer prayed in a church setting is more effective than the prayer done at home, car or coffee shop.

I don't believe in parents doing a "prayer-show" with the intention to get their kids to be more spiritual like them.

I don't believe in promising people that "I will pray for you" every time when he/she shares some burden with me, unless there is a genuine desire in my heart to do that. I do not believe in praying for forgiveness every time I sin. I don't believe in praying out of guilt.

These are the few things I believe about prayer:

The only reason I pray is because I have a desire to talk to my Heavenly Father.
When I pray, regardless of what I am praying for, my attitude always has to be, "Lord, if it's your will...".
I don't muster up prayer just for the sake of praying.
The most hart-felt prayers are not necessarily found in my mouth, rather they are in my heart.
I pray enthusiastically when the Lord himself puts a desire in my heart to pray.
I believe in the sovereignty of God and believe that He is always in control regardless of whether people pray or not.
Prayer (talking to God), in my mind, has to be a natural result of being in a relationship with Him.
When it comes to prayer (or anything else), motivation behind it matters the most.
If you believe in His unconditional love and awesome grace, you will find yourself thanking Him more, than asking Him to do things.

Lastly and more importantly,

Regardless of whether my prayer was answered the way I want it or not, I am still at peace and in total contentment because I know the fact that my Father is in total control of my life and there is nothing which can separate me from His love.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Who told you that you were naked?"

What made the humanity to become so self-centered? When God created Adam and Eve, they weren't self-centered. They were God-centered. They walked naked in the garden. They didn't care the fact that they were naked. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame (Genesis 2:25). Look at the animals. All of them are naked.

[This is one thing the evolutionists can't answer. When did humanity start wearing cloths to hide their genitals? What was the origin of the thing called shame? Monkeys don't wear cloths. All of a sudden when the monkey became a human, he started going for shopping at Macy's?]

Adam and Eve bore the glorious image of God when they were created. God created man in his own image. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. They were blinded (in a good way) by the glorious harmony they had with God. They not only felt free, but they were truly free. God gave them total freedom, including the freedom to choose evil. (If freedom didn't include freedom to sin, it isn't real freedom.)

They chose to eat from the wrong tree, lost their god-centeredness and gained self-centeredness. They weren't created to posess a knowledge of good and evil, yet they chose to have it. Bible says, "then the eyes of both of them were opened". Ha! All of a sudden, they are looking at themselves. Now they are seeing everything through that newly opened set of eyes. It says, they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves and then they hid.

When God came looking for them, He found them hiding out of shame and asks this question, "Who told you that you were naked?". Which implies that the only third person there, which is God himself, not seeing them as naked. They became sin-conscious. Their god-consciousness died.

The good news is, the Second Adam (Christ) restored it for you an me. He cleansed our conscience (Heb 9:14). He don't expect you to feel shame today. He don't want you to hide from Him. He don't want you to sew your own filthy rags (obedience to the law, self effort, good works etc) today.

If you are in Christ and still going to God begging for forgiveness, thinking that you are rejected by Him when you sin, he is going to ask you this question: "Who told you that you were naked?". It is the law what tells you that you are naked (not worthy, sinful etc). It is the knowledge of good and evil (law) that makes you self-centered. Law only condemns! Law has no place in a Christian's life. (Gal 3:23-25) So, dump the knowledge of good and evil (which you were never meant to have) and eat from the Tree of Life. There is freedom, because there is no condemnation!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Religious Pragmatism

I read this quote somewhere:

'A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.'

While I don't necessarily agree to this (at least not in all the cases), I would probably agree to a slightly modified version of it:

A great many people think they are "proving" when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

Once my Mom told me, if you want you can prove that there isn't any God, using Bible verses. She is not a philosopher and I am pretty sure she heard it from someone else. But there is some truth in it.

Often times people go into the mode of 'proving' AFTER making up their mind. They confront others in an effort to make them buy their ideas while using Bible as a means. "Bible says so...", so I believe. A good example would be, today's churches using verses from the book of Malachi to establish the practice of tithing.

They search Scriptures after making up their minds. They find verses which support what they want to believe. It is like writing the story of the movie after fixing the actors.

This is exactly the mindset behind the religious pragmatism. They think truth is whatever works. If I get results it has to be good. Tithing works, it gives results, so it should be good. The next step is simple: find verses supporting it. "Law" works, it gives immediate results, so it should be good, then follow the simple step of finding the verses. Universalism sounds good, lets find verses supporting it!

To quote AW Tozer on this, he says it like this:

...Preoccupation with appearances and a corresponding neglect of the out-of-sight root of the true spiritual life are prophetic signs which go unheeded. Immediate "results" are all that matter, quick proofs of present success without a thought of next week or next year. Religious pragmatism is running wild among the orthodox. Truth is whatever works. If it gets results it is good. There is but one test for the religious leader: success. Everything is forgiven him except failure...

The sad part is, the results (success) achieved through these practices are merely external. It gratifies only feelings, emotions, insecurities, appearances and our superstitious fears. It isn't good for setting people free, instead it puts them into much bondage. It encourages people to fake.

Ask a Catholic, he would say he 'feel' good when he attend a Mass. So it should be good and spiritual. The thing is everything that feels good is not spiritual. Even, not all good things are spiritual. Everything that 'works' isn't spiritual either. Anything to be called as spiritual, it has to be based on some absolute, unmoving TRUTH. Such absolute truth is not of this world because this world and the people in it are not absolute and unmoving. What works today may not work tomorrow. Everything changes - culture, moral standards, ethics, climate, economy, technology, theology, religion and pretty much everything.

Churches have found a lot of things 'working' and made it into traditions - altar calls, tithing, pastoral authority, organizational structure, pew and pulpit system and all that.

God's grace is a contradiction to 'practical theology'. Grace isn't practical in human terms. It is the impracticality what makes it grace. If it was practical, why call it grace? This is where I have problem when people say God's grace enables them to obey the law. What an oxymoronic statement! You might feel good when you think you are obeying the law. But pls. don't mix grace with your stupidity. Grace is grace! You cannot comprehend it with your dumb mind. You can live in it if you have the mind of Christ.

Yes, it is a fact that our puny brain cannot understand God's grace. I think it is a good thing, because grace was never meant to be understood with our head. Grace is against everything our head want to believe. Our head is so very practical. Grace is totally contrary to any human logic.

It's a heart thing. It's a God thing.

And it comes to our heart through REVELATION. Our heart can accept an impractical/illogical thing only through revelation, not through education. So lets lean on God so that He will reveal this thing called grace, and once you have it, you can pretty much live the rest of your life in total amazement, with an overflowing heart of gratitude towards God. That is what Christian life is all about. It defiles human intelligence.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Leadership in church

Few months ago, I met a pastor at a birthday party. As we opened a conversation, he asked me where I go to church to. It surprised him when I said I do not attend any church on a regular basis. He was intrigued to know the reason and I shared a little bit of background (not much, because it's hard to explain everything in few minutes and sometimes I don't even know where to begin!). One of the thing I highlighted was that my skepticism and distaste over the practice of leadership in today's churches. I said, I do not believe I have to submit myself under any earthly spiritual authority.

It didn't strike a chord with him.

He took me to a corner and lectured me for the next 90 minutes or so, explaining the different 'levels' of 'anointing'. Interestingly, he did not use any New Testament Scriptures. Instead, he went to OT, took the example of David, explained to me how God anointed David in 3 different levels (the third one was the kingly anointing).

His point was, pastors are generally at the third level of anointing, so its good to be submissive to them. Because they are like Kings.

Of course, I was looking for a way to escape all throughout this conversation. To be quite honest, I felt very weary to even spend my energy explaining him why I do not necessarily agree with his view. It was also an astonishment to see how people develop doctrines from OT stories.

What are your thoughts on the issue of leadership in church today? Do you think pastors have some special anointing? What about the hierarchy in leadership? Do you believe in the 'calling'? Do you believe in any form of leadership at all? Pls. share your thoughts...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trusting others

I want to learn to trust people. I was raised in a home where I was taught to be always 'cautious' about others, and the surroundings. A pattern has been developed in my brain that I shouldn't trust anyone by default. My default setting is mistrust and skepticism. It goes beyond people to ideas, philosophies, theologies etc.

This is part of the reason I would ignore the broken cars on the freeway. I know they might need help but I can't trust them.

Mostly I pay no attention to the authors/preachers unless I know them in person or someone whom I trust recommend them. I find it hard to take risk there. I always get uncomfortable when my kids, out of their innocence, attempt to talk to strangers. What if they have an intention to harm my kids?

I know wisdom and a spirit of discernment plays a good role in judging others and their intentions. But I find it hard to balance myself. Deep in my heart, I want to trust people and I want to love people, even strangers regardless of how they look, what they wear etc.

Do you struggle with this issue? Do you trust people first and then love them Or do you love them first and then grow your trust in them? Is fear the cause of mistrust? Shouldn't we fearlessly trust people with a willingness in our heart to face the consequences if we were wrong in judging them as trustworthy?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

'Christian' practices?

Some of the practices which are so ingrained into modern Christianity, yet hard to find it among the early Christians of the first century or in the Bible...
  • Senior, junior, associate, youth, music pastors
  • Pulpit-pew structure
  • Passing of offering plates to collect money
  • Worship leaders
  • Worship services
  • Miracle crusades
  • Healing services
  • Health and Wealth preaching
  • Mid-week services
  • Building church buildings
  • Seminaries
  • Hiring of professional speakers
  • Clergy ordination, resumes, interviews
  • Denominations
  • Leadership hierarchies
  • Contemporary Vs. traditional services
  • 'Going' to church
  • Preaching against certain type of sinners
  • Political endorsements, protests, threats
  • White church, black church etc
  • Pentecostal church, baptist church, methodist church etc
  • Questions such as "What kind of a church you go to?", "How big is your church?", "How many services do you have?" etc
  • Evangelism department
  • Making something into a "movement"
  • Seminars on "how to win souls?", "witnessing" etc
  • Emphasis on rituals such as Baptism etc
  • Prayer chains
  • Altar calls
  • "Spirit-led" worship Vs. Spiritless worship
  • Confession
  • Miracle water, hand kerchiefs etc
  • "If you are a Christian, you are to be perfect" mentality
  • Veneration of '10 commandments'
  • Emphasis on behavior modification, teaching of performance-based acceptance.
Okay, enough...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"One thing you lack"

I have been thinking about the issue of obedience a little further after I wrote my earlier post "Obey or burn". I was wondering if there is an accepted 'limit' for obedience. How far can we obey? What would satisfy God? Or in other words, what would satisfy you or me? And what happens when I fail to obey? Am I rejected? Am I less loved? Am I out of fellowship with God? Does it affect the intimacy of my relationship with God?

If so, What is the remedy? Beat myself up more? Do the confession thing?

Would I be able to go upto "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)? Would I be able to reach there one day and call myself as matured and finally righteous?

It seems like God is heartless to raise the bar to such a height. Remember, the rich guy (Mark 10:17-25), who came claiming that he obeyed all the law? What did Jesus say to him? Did he say "well done my son, you finally made it"? No!

He said, "One thing you lack"! (Oops!) And then continued, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Ouch!)

Jesus's response seems like very mean-spirited and cruel. This young guy was jumping (or he thought he was jumping) a 10 ft high bar, but now Jesus raised it to 75 ft. What was the result? He was disappointed! His face fell, it says. He went away sad.

Was Jesus heartless? Shouldn't have Jesus taken pride in seeing a young person who obeys his commandments since his childhood?

He seems to be heartless for those who try to earn or maintain his favor through anything they do. The statement by Apostle Mark, "Jesus looked at him and loved him" (v21) doubtlessly conveys the fact that He wanted the rich young man to see a gift which He came to offer. Unfortunately the young man didn't see the love in the eyes of Jesus because he was so busy presenting his self-righteousness.

A gift cannot be earned. If we strive for a gift, there is always going to be that "one thing you lack". With Jesus, you get everything you ever need. You are perfected and accepted in Him and then you lack nothing; so you may stop striving and may rest in Him. It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Obey or burn

"Obedience". A word Christian religion (or any religion, for that matter) is fascinated about. I have searched the Bible looking for the various techniques to implement obedience as I began my serious Christian walk. Later on, I found this verse : "train yourself to be godly" ( 1 Timothy 4:7). I heard it over and over from a radio preacher and every single time I listened to his sermon, I used to get all motivated. Motivated to 'train' myself to be godly. I figured out that, what is lacking in my Christian life was nothing but a strict, hard-core obedience. if I can make that happen, I would be the most happiest person in the world, I thought.

I pictured myself as a person preparing for an Olympic race. The preacher kept on preaching about the pain, struggle and commitment each Olympic medal winner goes through before they get to their final race. He said, its all worth when we win.

I wanted to win the gold medal. You know, at the time of judgment.

I considered Bible as my coach. I looked for instructions - moral, spiritual, social, behavioral, even dietary guidelines (there was time in my life I stopped eating pork). At any cost, I had to win in the final analysis.

As I jumped through each loops of obedience, I felt so good. I felt proud about myself. I felt proud about my religion. As a result of being strong, committed and ultra self-righteous, I started looking down on people who didn't obey like I did. You know, those sinners! I knew they were going to burn in hell. I couldn't wait to see that.

I had this picture in my mind that God is going to weigh all our obedience on a scale and then make a decision about our eternity.

Can you relate to the never ending cycle of self-analysis? Analyzing each thoughts, decisions and actions. It is a pre-occupation with self. If you had to watch my life, the destructive narcissism was so evident in everything I said and did.

In all my vigorous 'godliness-training', I missed the whole point. Each day, I was dragging my filthy rags to God and making myself a fool for missing out His love and the forgiveness provided on the cross. I labored from the OT premise of "master-slave" mentality and terribly failed to see the beautiful, new covenant-based "Father-son" relationship.

Each time I declared my righteousness through obedience, I was making the cross of Christ a mockery.

Within few years, I was burned out. I felt miserable like hell. As I failed more and more in my attempts to obey, my self-righteousness started turning into self-hatred. The more I failed, the more I felt like rejected by God. My question was, I am genuinely trying to obey His tenants, why is he letting me fail?

It was a never ending cycle of self-righteousness, arrogance, pride, self-pettiness and depression.

I don't want to go there anymore. I am learning to live from the Life within. I want to to be internally driven, not externally. There are no abilities residing in my flesh to live a righteous Christian life, so I leave it to Jesus who lives in me. I am going to trust Him to do it for me, through me. After all, he has called us to a rest (Sabbath rest), not to a struggle.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I battled with nervousness, excitement, and various inexpressible feelings as I was getting ready to head out to Sandusky, Ohio on Friday to meet with some people whom I have only interacted online. I knew they were real. I knew they knew Jesus. I knew they have a grip on the message I believe, the message of God's unconditional love and grace. I knew all that. That was the exciting fact. But still I was nervous. Nervous about my accent, color, possible cultural differences and what not.

However, I am here to tell the world that it wasn't anything like I thought. The common thread among all of us was very visible, natural and there wasn't any struggle. The heart-to-heart connection was so evident. Meeting with Leonard, Jamie, Joel and Matthew was like a dream coming true and I felt that we were all in one spirit right away. We didn't have to say it loud, we all knew it.

It is a God thing, a chemistry.

Sitting on the park bench and talking about God, life, grace and Jesus was more than enjoyable, calming and serene. I think I can do it for days, weeks, months and years...

Sitting around the fire, cracking jokes, walking around the park, Ryan's guitar treat...

I observed the peace, joy and love in everybody's eyes. It changed my life. I was probably the least expressive among us. These are people who love others whole heatedly, without any reservation. I am convinced only God's love can achieve this.

Thank you Jamie, Matthew, Joel and Leonard... I love you all. Thank you Ryan for telling about farm and farming, It was more than fascinating. Thank you Tracy for those tasty tacos. Thank you Savannah for organizing the Catch Phrase game. It was a total blast! I will remember some of those spontaneous jokes during the game for the rest of my life. Thank you for those ripstick skateboard lessons too. And thank you Noelle and Jared for the impression you made in my heart about how well behaved children can be.

What was it that brought these people together like this? Was it religion? Was it a particular caste, denomination, or class? Was it people trying to show their 'Christian principles'? Was it trying to earn brownie points with God? Was it the name-sake 'fellowship'? It wasn't any of that. It was simply the love of Jesus working in and through each one of us... His agape working through our transformed hearts...

The bloggers - Leonard, Bino, Matthew, Jamie, and Joel

All of us - Bino, Leonard, Matthew, Jamie, Jared, Ryan, Savannah, Noelle, Tracy and Joel.

More pictures are there on Better than we know and Grace Roots

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Fear causes us to stumble...
Fear causes us to pretend...
Fear causes us to withdraw...
Fear causes us to be unreal...
Fear causes us to fake...
Fear causes us to be suppressive...
Fear causes us to be oppressive...
Fear causes us to be angry...
self destructive...

And the only true solution to fear is...

Perfect Love!

[1 John 4:18]

Be loved! Be fearless!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

'Deliberately' sinning...

I had struggled with the confusion about what it means to sin deliberately. I have heard so many sermons from the pulpit saying that if you commit some sin and ask forgiveness from God, after repenting, He will forgive you (Need Scripture ref? Look at 1 John 1:9). I did it for years and years. It was kind of like a license to me that I thought, if I can just confess whatever I did and can get forgiven at the end of the day, that's a pretty good deal.

Another thing I have heard from the same pulpits is that sinning is okay as long as you confess; but if you deliberately sin, it is a sin against Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven. They call it 'unpardonable' sin. And they quote few verses including the famous Hebrews 10:26.

Then I was confused.

If I look into my heart honestly, I have to admit one thing : Every single sin I do, I do it deliberately! When I act selfish, I do it deliberately. When I shout at my wife, that's pretty deliberate. When I cuss the drivers who cut me off on the freeway, that's deliberate. When I lust, that is deliberate. When I envy my co-worker, that's deliberate. What sin is not deliberate? I thought I had no hope.

Is there something called accidental sins?

Did Jesus take away ALL the sins at the cross or just the 'accidental' sins? Did He leave the deliberate sins upto us to deal with, so that we can come up with our own ideas about how to get forgiven? Did He build confession booths for us to go in and confess and get forgiven? Or did He say, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness"? Did He die for ALL sins of ALL people? Or Did He die for some sins of some people? Did He say "it's partially finished"? Or did He say "It's Finished" (Paid in full)?

Is sin still an issue between God and man? If so, how do we deal with it without the shedding of blood?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Is God recording any video?

I just read an excellent post written by Steve McVey on his blog (its written for his new book -"52 Lies Taught In Church Every Sunday" ). In this particular post, he is addressing one of the many lies taught by the church over the years - that our sins are 'covered' under the blood of Jesus.

It sounded right to me that for so many years in my life I believed it. Along with that theology, I had always unconsciously believed that if my sins are covered, He could just dig it up whenever he want to condemn me. I thought, if he wouldn't dig it open in this life, he would certainly expose it one by one on the day of judgment (like it being shown in a recorded video) and accuse me about each of my sins. I was so insecure about that video he is recording. I could never live free because of it. Talk about fear, insecurity, bondage and lifelessness!

The good news is, He isn't recording. In fact, the Devil was recording for sometime, but God (in Christ) snatched it out of his hands and erased it and destroyed the tape. It will NEVER be brought back! Its a done deal. It's FINISHED!

Steve, in his post said it like this: "He has rewritten your history by taking away the sins of your past and giving you the history of Christ Himself."

Here is the entire post - Lies Taught In Church Every Sunday

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The 'Christian' difference.

As a Christian, sometimes I deliberately try to make a difference. Its kind of silly. I try to give a good and nice impression about my life to others. It is my own proclamation, out of my insecurity, that "Look, I am a happy, problem-free person BECAUSE I am a Christian and more than that I am a believer in the grace of God. You have problems? Too bad. You are a loser! I have found the secret spiritual formula for a problem-free life. Humble yourself and ask of me, I might share the secret with you!"

Why are Christians so insecure and some are so adamant to even admit that they have struggles in life? I am here to tell you that, my life is NOT 'heaven on earth'. My life is a life of imperfection, trouble and often times a mess. I have no secret spiritual formula for a perfect life.

I have financial struggles, sickness and all that, just like the heathens. Pretty much anything you can think of.

Yes, I am settled deep inside me because of the fact that I know for sure that God is in control of my life and everything around me. I am secured there. I don't have a feeling that I am 'missing' something. The emptiness in my heart was mysteriously and wonderfully filled by Christ Jesus. I am not seeking anything 'more'.

But, at the same time, I am not in a state of spiritual 'nirvana' all the time. I am not even walking by faith 24/7. I have the regular problems of the regular people. Didn't Jesus say that "you will have trouble in this world"? Did Jesus offer a perfect life here on earth? I think not.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

If I had my life to live over again...

If I had my life to live over again, I'd try to make more
mistakes next time.

I would relax, I would limber up, I would be sillier than
I have been this trip.

I know of very few things I would take seriously.
I would take more trip. I would be crazier.

I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and
watch more sunsets.

I would do more walking and looking.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would have more actual troubles, and fewer imaginary

You see, I'm one of those people who live life
prophylactically and sensibly hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again
I'd have more of them.

In fact, I'd try to have nothing else, just moments, one
after another, instead of living so many years
ahead each day.

I've been one of those people who
never go anywhere without a thermometer,
a hot-water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, aspirin, and a parachute.

If I had to do it over again I would go places, do things,
and travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over I would start barefooted
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.

I would play hookey more.
I wouldn't make such good grades, except by accident.
I would ride on more merry-go-rounds.
I'd pick more daisies.
- written by a friar in a Nebraska monastery.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My 'Performance-Based Acceptance' Story

I am sharing this story as part of the synchroblog idea Joel came up with. The biggest challenge for me to write this up here is about how to make it short. :)

I was born in a very orthodox Christian family, where my parents, grand parents and many generations practiced Eastern Orthodox religion (a branch of Greek Orthodox). Religion, church, and related rituals were all part of our life during childhood. Starting with my parents, continuing with my teachers at school and Sunday school, including the church clergies, pretty much all the people I ever came to know in my life, in one way or the other, knowingly or unknowingly have tried to put pressure on me to perform/behave in a certain way. In other words, no one wanted to accept me as who I was. Everyone expected something from me - from good grades in school to good behaviors at church.

All these, including many incidents through out my childhood, slowly started to inject a deadly poison into my brain - that my worth is directly depended on my performance.

Later on, in my late twenties, I was introduced to Pentecostalism, where I learned the idea of being born-again first time in my life. I saw it in the Bible that Jesus is the only means for Salvation (which the orthodox church never taught!). I got saved by believing in Jesus. It brought a lot of joy into my life.

But, sooner my focus started changing. I started falling into 'doing' stuff, thinking that is what God expected from me as a Christian. It all got powered up by the faulty concept many of us has learned during our life time - that our worth is directly depending on our performance.

The following few years, my life was a roller-coaster ride of performance, gaining Bible knowledge, religious show off, emotional experiences, faith formulas, prosperity gospel, prophecies, health and wealth, name it and claim it, end times and all that you can think of.

I started following the popular beliefs of 'churchianity'.

As a follower of churchianity, I have always thought I have to do 'big' things for God. I remember, few months after becoming a Christian I started participating in the evangelical programs of the church. I went to university campus to reach out to the students with the message of gospel. I visited homes telling them about Jesus. I distributed ‘free chilled water’ in summer for the commuters, handing over tracts along with water bottles. When some people hesitated to accept the tracts I thought that was ‘persecution’ and felt so proud that I am being persecuted for Christ! I acted in bible dramas to reach out to unbelievers. I felt so good because I was doing all the big things. Sometimes I forgot my small family back at home waiting for me. I walked with big bibles and expositories in my hand and engaged in big theological discussions. ‘End times’ was one of my favorites. People considered me as a person who is ‘fired up’ for Jesus. I liked the attention I started to get. I did more to bring more attention. I was busy and acted busy as well around others. I enjoyed the praises of elders and pastors. I appeared happy and busy for God on Sundays. After all these, on Monday when I wake up I was dry and miserable like hell. I was impatient towards my wife. I wondered what Jesus meant by the 'spring of water welling up in us'. I had no joy. I used to cry out to God while driving to office, to bring joy in my life. I negotiated with Him about the big things I am doing. I reminded Him the things I did and demanded 'joy'.

I was focused on doing big things while forgetting the small things - resting in Him, enjoying His life, abiding in Him just like a branch, allowing Him to live His life through me, learning to be contented in all the circumstances (As Paul said in Philippians 4:10-14).

He heard my prayer and I got His attention (or He got my attention?) in the year of 2006. He put me through a revolution, a grace revolution. His radical grace started changing my outlook on everything radically. He revealed the truth of His gospel and showed me the freedom He offered. He taught me to read the Bible for what it means, not just what it says. He changed my perception of Him that He isn't an angry God waiting up there to whack us when we misbehave, but a loving, compassionate God who operates from the paradigm of amazing GRACE. I started seeing myself as He sees me, as a new creation in Christ who is accepted into His family as His own precious child on the sole basis of what Jesus did, not what I do/did/will do.

I started unlearning religion. It still contines, even today...

Make no mistake, this isn't an easy journey. There are many lonely moments. There is opposition. This is not a popular belief. This isn't about following the majority. There is pressure from legalistic sources. There is confusion, doubts, questions, challenges and all that. But, regardless of any of it, I wouldn't trade this journey for anything. He has given me the confidence, that no matter how I mess up, I can still snuggle back into His lap and call Him "Abba, Father!". And there is nothing, nothing which can separate me from His love. NOTHING!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Break free from religious 'safety'...

"A ship in port is safe. But that’s not what ships are built for." - Grace Murray Hopper

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I was regretting the past
And fearing the future...
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
"MY NAME IS I AM." He paused.
I waited. He continued,




- Helen Mallicoat

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The source of guilt

Guilt is often presented as a good thing among religion. Many see guilt as a sign of sensitivity towards sin and the first step towards repentance. I think the church teaches from a wrong premise that the ministry of Holy Spirit is about convicting believers of their sins. Thus, as a result of such conviction, according to them, it is good that people feel guilty, so they can repent, ask forgiveness and get back into the fellowship with God.

People sit in pews Sunday after Sunday waiting for the bashing statements from the preacher so that they can feel guilty about their wrongful actions of the previous week; and they kind of feel good when they feel guilty. Then at the end of the sermon, the preacher usually throws an invitation for people to come forward to confess their sins and 'restore' the relationship with God. And it is commonly understood that the people who are 'sensitive' to sin would go forward and confess it. But the rigid, insensitive, rebellious ones sit back and spectate. Or may be the preacher did not use enough law to effectively stab their heart that they aren't bleeding yet. Well, may be, next week he can do a better job!

I think, the source of guilt is self-righteousness, pride and a faulty understanding of the ministry of Holy Spirit in a believer's a life.

When I sin, why would I feel guilty?

Its either,
  • I do not believe that Jesus took away all my sins at the cross.
  • I had always thought I would never do that sin. (self-righteousness)
Lets say, you did the worst possible sin imaginable. The sin which you thought you would never do.

Well, there is the problem!

Why did we even think that we would never do a particular sin? When I think or say that I would never do a sin, what I am saying indirectly is that Jesus didn't have to take that sin away for me, thereby devaluing His superior act on the cross. Out of my arrogance, I thought I could abstain from it by the energy of my flesh. No wonder that I am surprised when I do it, and plunging myself into guilt, shame, self-pity and condemnation.

A person who has a grasp of the 'finished work of Jesus' and the 'finality of the cross' do not have to feel guilty when he/she sins. They doubtlessly know that all their sins are behind the back of God, never to see them again. Its a message which humbles us, and enables us to say 'Thank you, Jesus' when we sin. It is not about being insensitive to sin, its not about seeing the unconditional forgiveness as a 'license' to indulge in sin. It is an understanding that, we are capable of doing any sin under the sun, but we don't have to lose heart when we do it, because all our sins are forgiven at the cross once and for all, and rejoice in the fact that God's power rests upon our weakness.

The Spirit of Jesus, who took away the sins from the sight of God, would never ever bring up the already forgiven and forgotten sins back again to condemn us and put us into shame and guilt.

Holy Spirit is not oxymoronic!

He is/was one among the Triune God, "who was in Christ, reconciling us to Himself, not counting our sins against us" (2 Corinthians 5:19). That being an accomplished fact, Holy Spirit would always point us back to the cross, and to the fact that we are perfectly righteous because of what Jesus did and thereby reminding us our need to stand on His grace alone every single day of our life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Does God love everyone or just Christians?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. - 1 John 2:2

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Handling of our freedom

Freedom always comes with a risk. The risk of misusing it. The risk of licentiousness to go uncontrolled in life. No wonder the churches over the ages teaches about freedom in Christ doctrinally, but never encourage people to apply it in practical life. For the practical purpose, they think, that people need law. At least some of them, like the 10 commandments for example. So they 'teach' freedom, but never let them live in freedom.

The result is slavery.

Slavery (law) is not the solution for the misuse of freedom.

Apostle Paul said "Everything is lawful, but not everything is profitable" (1 Corinthians 10:23). He also said, "do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13)

There is another passage which has a lot of implications in it: "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." - 1 Corinthians 8:9

Apostle Peter also encourages us saying "do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God." (1 Peter 2:16)

What is NOT the solution?

Apostle's solution wasn't suggesting to put us back under the law even while it was a fact they knew very well that people could misuse their freedom and indulge in sin. But, as a solution they did not give a set of principles along with the freedom they preached. In fact, Paul had some strong words against people falling back in to the law.

He said "stand firm in the freedom" and "do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery"

Is there a solution?

I have heard a great analogy about the difference between the country dog and city dog. The city dog usually live inside a fence, restricted from his freedom. So he is always looking for a crack in the fence, so that he can escape from his slavery. and He WILL sneak out, when he get a chance. Whereas, the country dog is totally free, he can go anywhere he wants, there is no fence, law or restrictions. But where would you find him all the time? At the feet of his master! He don't want to go!

He knows his master loves Him. He knows that His master has given him freedom. He sees His master's love and acceptance, and don't want to run away...

Knowing His love is the solution. As we get rooted and established in His love, we don't want to go, we don't want to misuse our freedom. Our desire is Him, His presence, His love and His grace. We realize that the temporary pleasures out there is nothing compared to His love and His presence in life. His grace "teaches us to say 'no' to ungodliness"(Titus 2:12). And as we see this truth, we would start living in His best interest.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What is your identity?

What is your identity?

Are you "just an old sinner saved by grace."or a saint (holy, righteous child of God)?

Apostle Paul, as he writes to different assemblies, he addresses them by calling them saints:

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints - Romans 1:7

To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia - 2 Corinthians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus - Ephesians 1:1

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi - Philippians 1:1

giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. - Colossians 1:12

It looks like the believers in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi and Colossia were called saints, although their actions weren't so much saint-like all the time. Those were ordinary people just like you and me, they pretty much looked like you and me (may be even bad), they didn't act holy all the time, they had problems in their lives just like you and me, they had questions and confusions, they didn't have the Bible like you an I have it today, they didn't have a stack of 'how to' christian books in their living room, they weren't perfect parents, husbands, wives or children, yet Apostle Paul called them "saints". In other words, God call them "saints". And God call us saints, because we have the very same righteousness of Christ Jesus. Is it too good to be true?

Monday, April 6, 2009


"True obedience is the unrestrained indulgence of our new nature" - Dwight Edwards

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Be weak!

I think it's better to be weak than strong. The words such as 'dedicated', 'strong' and 'committed' may sound appealing, but I wonder if it can help us in any way in our christian walk.

It's hard for me to admit that I am not strong but weak (especially as a man!). I have figured out that, any person, doesn't matter how dedicated they are in their Christian walk, is prone to temptation, sin and all kinds of troubles in life.

Some of the things we do or think might surprise us. The things which we thought we would never do or think as a Christian. Sometimes we sit and wonder, how in the world so and so person could do such a terrible thing, not knowing that, we too, given the right circumstances, could do the very same thing. Most of the time, it's the mater of time and right circumstance.

Apostle Paul was probably the most well known Christian ever lived on the planet earth. God used him to write 14 New Testament Epistles. That to me, is a huge thing! The person who possessed unbelievable depth and insight into the things of God. God used him mightily to reach so many people including Jews and Gentiles all around the world.

Yet, he made a surprising statement when he wrote his letter to the people at Corinth: "If I boast, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses".

Did you expect such a statement from the most influential, well known, zealous Christian? I think it reveals a very fundamental principle of Christian living: what counts is not your strength, but your weakness.

Give up your dedication, give up your commitment, give up your strength, give up your stinking self-righteousness and embrace God's awesome grace just like apostle Paul did. He came to a conclusion that "His grace is sufficient for me".

What about you?

It is in your weakness, Christ's power would rest on you. So, stop boasting about the things you do, the things you give up for godliness, the sins you abstain from, the integrity you think you have. Your dedication will melt away in a matter of seconds, if you are given the right circumstance. The mask will fall off from your face when you would least expect that it would happen.

At that moment, don't be surprised at the thing you did/thought because God is not surprised anyways! He always knew that you couldn't keep it up. That is why He sent His only begotten Son to do it for you. That is why He sent His own Spirit to do it through you.

He says, "His power is made perfect in your weakness". Apostle encourages us to "delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties." Then, he went on to say this most astounding statement: "For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

A Christian's strength is in his weakness. If you are in a mess in your life, don't think it is unusual. It isn't! When you are tempted to do the things you have never imagined doing, don't be surprised. It is not unusual. When you fall flat on your face in the privacy of your room, know that you are weak and it's perfectly alright, because "his power is made perfect in your weakness". You are not going to live a perfect life in this world. So, don't even try. Just give up!

You WILL have troubles, you WILL have temptations, you WILL sin, you WILL get insulted, you WILL have hardships, persecutions and difficulties. If you would unrealistically expect anything contrary to this, you are buckling yourself up to face some deep disappointment, depression and disillusionment in your life.

Don't think troubles are unusual for a Christian. If you have it, you are perfectly normal. In fact, I would question a person's honesty if he claim that he has no troubles in his life and is always happy. The fact is, in the midst of all the mess you are in right now, the emotional or physical trauma you are going through, the secret sins you might be doing, the dirty desires in your heart, know this with full assurance: you are perfectly loved, accepted and eternally forgiven as a child of God. Take strength from that very fact and don't be afraid to be weak and vulnerable.

Again, when you are weak, then you are strong!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Be free...

"In all my years as a Christian, I have never heard anyone say, "I've had it! I am sick to death of the love and grace of God. I'm sick of other Christians loving and accepting me. I'm giving up this Christian life." No I've never heard that. But I couldn't count the number of Christians I've known who have given up because of being under law, who have been broken by the crushing burden of trying to be good enough to earn God's acceptance, who have been mangled by the competition, the judging, and the demands to conform to some group's standards. "We'll accept you if you look like, walk like, talk like, and act like us." And the implication is always, "And God will, too." So what are we to do?

Jesus Christ came to free us from the burden of the law by calling us to a life united with His. We are beloved, accepted children of God, who have been called to His "banquet table" to experience Jesus Christ living in and through us every day. Abundant life is not "pie-in-the-sky" or nebulous theory. It is real, and it is ours for the taking if we will only believe. Let's not settle for anything less. "

- Bob George (Classic Christianity)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It wasn't oxygen!

"And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being" - Genesis 2:7

What was it God breathed into Adam's nostrils? Have you ever wondered? Was it the 'air' we breath? Was it oxygen? Check this excerpt from 'In His Image' by Dr. Paul Brand:
When I heard that verse as a child, I imagined Adam lying on the ground, perfectly formed but not yet alive, with God leaning over him and performing a sort of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Now I picture that scene differently. I assume that Adam was already biologically alive - the other animals needed no special puff of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide to start them breathing, why should man? The breath of God now symbolizes for me a spiritual reality. I see Adam as alive, but possessing only an animal vitality. Then God breaths into him a new spirit, and infills him with His own image. Adam becomes a living soul, not just a living body. God's image is not an arrangement of skin cells or a physical shape, but rather an inbreathed spirit.
We know the rest of the story, that Adam sinned and lost what was inbreathed into him and became dead spiritually (the wages of sin is death). The Life of God went absent from him. He was no more bearing the image of God.

Fast forward to the New Testament, the last Adam (Jesus) came to earth to give us what we lost in the first Adam. Acting out of His unconditional love and grace, He resolved the cause of death - sin, once and for all and made the entire world capable of receiving the Life through simple faith.

Do we realize that it is the very Life raised Jesus from the dead is what raises us from the state of spiritual death, when we simply receive Him by faith?
  • "In him was life" - John 1:4
  • "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it." - John 5:21
  • "Whoever believes in me has crossed over from death to life." - John 5:24
  • "For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." - John 6:33
  • "I am the bread of life." - John 6:35
  • "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." - John 6:53
  • "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12
  • "I have come that they may have life" - John 10:10
  • "I am the resurrection and the life." - John 11:25
  • "I am the way and the truth and the life." - John 14:6
  • "By believing in the Son of God, you may have life in his name." - John 20:31
By faith, we receive the very inbreathed spirit (Life) what Adam had before the fall and we now become a living spiritual being. Alive to God! And now, God want us to give flesh to that spirit, to live out the image of God here on earth. We have His very own likeness! It's mind boggling!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The law is holy

When we make statements such as,

'Law is the ministry of death', - 2 Cor 3:7

'Those who are under the law are under a curse', - Galatians 3:10

'Law kills us' etc, Romans 7:10

some people get it as if we are saying the law itself is bad and unholy. They immediately put on the coat of defense and start quoting Scriptures such as,

the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. - Romans 7:12

law is spiritual - Romans 7:14

This seems apparently contradicting and to make it even worse both those contrasting statements were made by Apostle Paul.

What can we conclude from this? Either Paul is contradicting himself or we are missing something.

Let's see if we can get this straight...

If law is holy, righteous and good, why would Paul spend so many pages of the Bible telling us that we, as believers should be totally free from the law?

Paul says, law cannot justify us (which many people agree) and he also says, law cannot help us to live a righteous life AFTER our justification (where many disagree).

Here are some verses clearly saying we are not to live by the law even after our salvation:

by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. - Romans 7:6

Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. - Galatians 3:25

(There are many other verses, but this is good for now)

So many honest, dedicated, well meaning Christians want to live a holy life and they earnestly try to follow the law. I admire their desire. But there is only one problem : they will burn out and fail and knowingly or unknowingly they are under a curse!

If the law is holy, good and righteous, why in the world the people who are trying to follow the holy, good and righteous law are under a curse?

Apostle Paul graciously answers this question (I love this guy).

He says, when the law said 'do not covet' (which is a holy, good and righteous command), the 'sin' in him, 'seized the opportunity' and 'produced every kind of covetous desire in me'

Was it a problem of the law? No!

Was it a problem of Apostle Paul himself? No!

What was the problem then? The 'sin' living in him.

This is the very reason he said,

the law gives sin its power. - 1 Cor. 15:56

Law empowers the sin in us. Law stirs up the sin in us. Is law bad? No! Are we (believers) bad? No! What is bad? The sin living in us.

When we look in the mirror, we see the dirt on our face. Is that a problem of the mirror? No. Is that a problem of our face? No. What is the problem? The dirt on our face.

Have you ever wondered why God introduced a 'New' covenant? Was the old covenant bad?

Absolutely not! Why would God make a bad covenant?

What then was the problem of the old covenant?

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people - Heb 8:7-8

The problem was the people! They couldn't keep it. So even before laying the foundation of the earth, God in His awesome grace and mercy, designed a NEW covenant in which He said, "I will remember your sins no more" and to accomplish it, He sent His own Son to earth to take away our sins!

Folks, this is good news! It is mind blowing! You can only sit down and look at this God with an overflowing heart of gratitude.

Okay, now the question is, if the law can only do bad in a believer's life, how are we to live a righteous life? a self-controlled life? upright, godly life?

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It (grace, the unconditional love of God) teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age - Titus 2:11-12

We live by grace, guys! And it teaches us how to handle our freedom. It is the forgiveness of God what encourages me to forgive others. It is the love of God what motivates me to love others. It is my acceptance by God with all my weaknesses what enables me to accept others with all their weaknesses.

Let's soak ourselves in this great love and let's be careful not to give an opportunity to sin to 'seize' us by our neck, by putting ourselves under the law. Live in grace! Live in freedom!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Water Baptism

If you become a Christian through water baptism,

all those who take a shower are Christians...

And I become a Christian everyday (except those days I am just too lazy to take a shower)...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Aquarium fishes

We had 4 fishes in our small kiddie aquarium and one of them died yesterday because Smita fed them too much and the food and their poop raised the mercury content in the water. So I had to do an emergency clean up yesterday so that we can keep the other three alive.

I think many Christians are like aquarium fishes - they look beautiful in the tank but you have to keep them alive by providing them a comfortable environment, right amount of food, clean water, clean filter, right temperature etc. They can't survive even a small change in the settings. They are very delicate.

Now, consider the fishes in the ocean. Their survivability is much higher because they are in the wild and they know how to cope with wilderness.

They are not in the tank.

In the tank, there is no much room for error because tank is very confined. A confined environment get contaminated soon.You over feed them or under feed them, they will die in both cases. You disrupt the nitrogen cycle in the tank, they will die.

You change the order, style or time of the service, many will leave. Because they immediately become uncomfortable. They need the cycle to be continued without disruption, they need to be fed with the right amount of food. You take the bottle out of their mouth and give them steak, they will die due to indigestion. Since they are not in the wild, they don't hunt for food themselves. So you appoint a feeder, usually a pastor. His job is very stressful because the lives of the inhabitants of the tank is now in his hands.

He keep giving them a pattern to follow and as long us they are in that comfort zone they are alive and would look great from outside. But don't jump into the tank deceived by their beauty. Its so hard to get out of the tank. The tank is usually in a temperature controlled living room. It's an artificial environment. It's not real. You can only entertain others showing your external beauty but you will never experience the wildness (natural state).

Fishes are not created for tanks!

As long as they are in the tank their life depends on the caretaker and the artificial environment.

Free them, then they will learn to live in the wild, in the freedom. They will swim in the depth and vastness of the ocean. They will develop immunity to fight problems, enemies. They will learn to discern. They will start using their own mind. They will dump the law of the tank and embrace the freedom of the grace. You don't need to spoon-feed the fishes which are in the wild. Because they are now living like their Creator intended them to live.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Christian living is...

...not about trying to achieve a certain standard, but it is living out the standard we already have.

however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. - (Philippians 3:16, NASB)

Monday, March 2, 2009

A tough week!

The words "My tummy hurts" usually followed by a scream.

That was the one thing I heard over and over and over for the past 7-8 days at home. There were moments I felt numb, helpless and exhausted. Both Jessica (4½ yrs) and Jonathan (2½ yrs) were sick since last Sunday. Initially we thought it was a regular stomach flu. But as the pain and nausea didn't stop after 3 days, we knew that wasn't the case. Jessica was able to bear pain to a certain degree, but Jonathan was literally miserable.

Pediatrician initially suspected appendicitis and send us to E.R. They took a series of X-Rays and ruled out appendicitis. They thought it was constipation and gave him an enema. On top of the pain, he was nauseated and absolutely no eating but was drinking some if we would force, which kept his body hydrated. After long hours in E.R we came home but he continued being sick and was in terrible pain.

Back to Pediatrician's office.

They suggested another series of X-rays to see if it was intussusception of intestines. Took him to another hospital where they have specialized pediatric care. X-ray was an instant read and they confirmed right away that it wasn't intussusception.

Back to home...

He is still in pain. Can't even sleep for more than 30 minutes!

Then they suggested an abdominal ultra sound.

Back to Radiology department. (In the meantime, the Pediatrician suggested seeing a surgeon.)

He went under the camera and the radiologist found that lymph glands around his intestine were enlarged. A condition called mesenteric adenitis caused by some virus.

There is no medicine to fight the virus other than waiting to see it going away in its due time. Smita and I took turns carrying him. Smita cried with him. We tried giving enough attention to Jessica as well because she was also sick by the same virus but symptoms were milder. We didn't sleep much these days, didn't eat well and we both lost about 5-10 pounds in one week (which is a good thing!). But it was worth when we saw him smiling on Saturday first time since previous Sunday...

Lessons and some facts:

1. Well kids are a blessing, do not take them for granted.
2. Thank God for the medical insurance, doctors, hospitals, radiologists and nurses (an everyone in the chain).
3. Be amazed at the incredible complexity of the human body and do not miss the opportunity to know the creator of it.
4. Appreciate parents who have sick children. I salute you!
5. Slow down in life.
6. Can't emphasis enough the value of spending time with kids while they are well and playful.
7. Thank God for their smile.
8. Appreciate a peaceful good night sleep.

Thank you for those who prayed and called!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The most difficult prayer

I think the reason we pray more and listen less is because we are not ready to give up our control. I tend to tell God what to do, which is kind of foolish if we think about it. I desperately want all the circumstances in my control and I desire to have things going the way I want.

To me, the most difficult prayer is - "Your will be done". It's scary. I feel like losing all my control, giving up my agendas (which I am not used to)...

Could we pray like this?

When we lose our job
- "Your will be done"

When we face foreclosure
- "Your will be done"

When our children make foolish decisions
- "Your will be done"

When we find out we have cancer
- "Your will be done"

When we lose our loved ones
- "Your will be done"

When your spouse leaves you for another man/woman
- "Your will be done"

When our comfort zones are challenged
- "Your will be done"

When a hurricane hits our area
- "Your will be done"

When our loved ones reject Jesus
- "Your will be done"

If we can't pray this prayer, how can we:

Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus? - (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homeownership for dummies

I am having a blast in my home ownership deal. I will share a few of the latest.

Ever since we bought this home we are seeing light water leakage in the basement when it either rains or when the snow melts. (It is a surprise that we didn't notice the water stain on the floor when we came to view this home before buying it!) I had been ignoring this all these days because of the fact that our basement is not carpeted. But now that we have decided to fully finish the partially finished basement, the water leak bothered me. The guy who is doing the finishing work helped me to take the drywall out of the area where it leaks so that we can take a look at the bare wall to find any cracks. After he took the wall off, we realized that the water is not really leaking through the wall, instead the water is coming from way 'up there'. By observing from the outside, we figured out that somehow water is streaming through the vinyl wall when it rains (which it shouldn't be doing, all the water is supposed to go to the roof gutters)

But I still had to find the area where the water enters inside the wall and I am almost getting scared by the fact that when it comes to home repair and maintenance, I am a dummy. Is there a much stronger word than 'dummy'?

But hey, like all the men in the world, I am not willing to admit it...

So, for the past few days, in the morning, before I go to work, I take my ladder, unfold it and climb up there to 'check' things on the roof. Every time I go I would trouble my wife, asking her to get the flash light etc as if I am doing some important work and she has to 'assist' me in small things like handing over a flash light. The truth of the matter is I am afraid of heights but the realization that if I try to bring in a 'Professional leak proofer' I would end up paying big bucks, overtakes the fear of height. So I carefully climb up there with jerking knees, standing on the ladder, look all over the roof with a 'Forrest Gump' kind of face.

After a minimum of 8-10 climbs so far I still have absolutely no clue where the water is leaking through. One of the biggest challenge is, to do this we have to wait for rain or melting snow (which don't happen everyday) Each time I come down from the ladder, I am more afraid that I am failing in my mission. I ask myself: shouldn't all men need to know these things. I would feel very inferior and stupid!

Once I come inside the home after each of my adventure trips to the the roof, my wife would curiously ask me if I have found anything. I used to share all my 'knowledge' and findings with her earlier but lately I would just say 'still investigating'. The thing is I have absolutely no clue.

You might be thinking that I am a miser and not ready to spend any penny on my home. Well, not exactly! Few days ago, I called a leak proofing company and a guy came and explained what 'could' be happening and finally said, they don't fix this kind of things. It seems like they fix only the leaks coming from the foundation of the basement. (Talk about specializations!)

So where do clueless dummies go? Where else other than Internet? (I wonder how people even lived without internet!)

So I search in google for phrases like 'roof leak + water in basement', 'why roof leaks?', 'how to stop leak?' etc. I read a lot of similar stories in "Yahoo Answers" and as I realize there are a whole lot of people out there with similar or may be more severe problems than this, I will feel so relieved. I even feel good. Also, I have learned so many terms such as 'shingles', 'drip edge', 'caulk', 'sealant' etc. Now when I talk to my wife about this issue, I will use those words and smile inside because I know she has no clue what I am talking about. She is dummier than me in these kind of stuff.

Well, anyways I thought I would share this. There is not much spiritual application here other than my recent prayers to stop raining and snowing in Michigan. We have no luck so far, so I am kind of stuck. May be I will climb up there once again this evening and see if I can find anything! (No kidding!) I even prayed to direct my path to the source of the leak...

Classic Tour - Detroit, Michigan

People to People team is doing a Classic tour conference here in Detroit on March 6-7. In the meeting, which is held at Kensington Community church, Bob George will be sharing his own personal journey from a disappointed and unfulfilled religious life to a new relational, dynamic life in Christ Jesus.

As I have shared before here, this ministry (especially their daily radio broadcast and Bob George's book 'Classic Christianity') has been a huge blessing in my own life.

If you are living or visiting Detroit area during that time, or if you can travel down here, attending this 2 day meetings would be a great blessing.

By the way, Kensington church is merely 1 mile away from my home, so pls. let me know if you are planning on coming...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hi, my name is 'Mr. Church'

And I have so many siblings and cousins, we are very proud of who we are.

You may see us in every nook and corner of America and all over the world.

In some places we are underground but in America we are mostly overground and we think it's okay either ways.

We stand there in various shapes, styles and names.

Some of us are dwarfs and some are tall and fat. The more fatter we are, the more successful our care-taker is.

All of us have care-takers called - pastors, priests, rabbis etc and they all come in different flavors depending on which family there were born or who converted them later on.

Have you seen Jesus's statues in us? Aren't they beautiful? Some of our Jesus' are bleeding, some are blessing, some are gloomy and depressed. But as long it has a beard and a divine light around its head, it is Jesus.

Some people love us and some hate us, but we really don't care.

Sometimes we think that it's funny people build us so beautiful but use only for few hours a week and pay mortgages year-round. LOL! Well, may be it isn't that funny!

Some of us are 'mega' and it usually depends on the charisma of our care-taker.

People build gymnasiums, swimming pools, prayer rooms, cafes, delis etc inside us and the more entertainment, the more happy the residents are. Isn't that cool? Oh! by the way, we love the poor.

Some of us are like iMax theaters - cushion chairs with cup holders on it, huge screens for the play. We don't mind if you take a nap sitting in our comfy chairs or enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the play. Hey, after all we are there to make you comfortable!

Is your marriage in trouble? Come to us, we have marriage seminars!

Would you like to learn how to raise your kids in Christian discipline? You are welcome to attend our 'Parenting lessons on strict christian worldview'.

Do you aspire to become a leader (and ultimately a care-taker of one of us)? Come on in, we have leadership seminars!

We have solutions for pretty much any problems people face - social, political, cultural, behavioral, you name it.

Are you confused whom to cast your vote? Listen to our pastor!
Are you confused whom to marry?Attend our youth ministry, you sure will find your soul mate there. But don't mess with the freedom there, we are against abortions.

Some of our pastors might talk about Jesus and His love, grace, blah blah, but don't worry if those things don't work, we have enough other tools and techniques to make you a good christian.

Sitting in our pews, you will feel the peace jesus offered, because we have dim lights, slow music, comfy chairs and air-conditioned halls.

Some of us are 'Full Gospel', some are Half Gospel and some are No Gospel.

Would you like to experience a little more 'glory' while you worship? Pick the ones with stained glasses and distinguished arts in it.

After all you are free to pick us. You have Freedom!

By the way, are you too lazy to wake up early on Sundays? The sermons preached by our pastor is available on DVD for a minimum donation of $60. Who can beat that price?

If you are first time visiting, feel free to pass that offering plate to the next person; but if you are a member, well, you know...

Most of us have visions. If you want to know our vision, check our website.

Some of our siblings and cousins fight and don't like each other, but don't worry we all believe the same thing.

Now, you are not a big fan of those slow hymns? Looking for a little 'high'? No worries, some of us have rock and roll worship, you will surely enjoy those. Feel free to use the freedom to dance and feel good.

Too shy to dance and worship? We provide dance lessons and worship practices. Make use of those free classes. They are absolutely free. There is no catch.

Are you someone who likes to dress up and show off? We have both contemporary and traditional services. Contemporary is 'come as you are' (blue jeans ok), traditional is more of suit and tie. Pick the one you like.

Have you never been to one of us before? There are 'seeker friendly' ones. Check them out! They are pretty cool. And, hey, pls. don't forget to fill out the visitor cards. It's very important to us.

Some of us are very politically correct and post modern, we accept pretty much any ideas under the sun. How cool is that?

You don't like the shape of some of us? Check out our newly introduced 'home' ones. You will feel like at home.

We usually operate around our pastors, who are usually very smart. We don't exist without them, so respect them, ok?