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