Monday, December 6, 2010
Following a star day and night
They stopped only at the Light
that shone under the guiding star so bright
They found their perfectly allowable excuse for Christmas
Ebenezer Scrooge thought he had too much too lose
Even on his poor Bob Crachit, he had to enforce his blues
But when the Ghost of Christmas Present took him to Bob's window glass
He underwent an extreme change from his cringing ways to depart
In a yummy turkey for Bob and more, he found his excuse, most importantly, in a change of heart
It's the Christmas Rush in the corner fancy shop
And a happy shopper was walking in, in a happy Christmas bop
Some fancies shine too much, some just right
All in all, for the owner it's another busy night
It seems they found their excuse for Christmas in colour and the shining lights
The dinner for the poor was very much in order
The poor man digging in was free from quite a spot of hunger bother
He looked up at the kind smiling faces who were gracious enough to serve him
At the same time, he was wondering where they were during the rest of his days that were dim
He was wondering whether he was their excuse for Christmas, but was too hungry to think further
The local church had many programmes lined up for the season
They seemed to have to celebrate, quite a great reason
In the midst of the fun, the madness and the frolic
The focus of the reason seemed to gradually lose its logic
That it indeed had nothing to do with their excuse is completely tragic.
The business man wanted to cash in on the celebration
He wanted to send out a very good vibration
So, he packed his products in to a Christmas case
And put on them on sale, all tied up in fancy red silky lace
As the profits rolled in, he seemed right at home with his excuse for Christmas
At the ever present carnival down the next corner
People rolled in, for lots of fun to order
They shouted and screamed as the excitement reached its peak
They began to start to want more excitement to seek
Their excuse for Christmas, at least, for the evening was just absolutely fine
As I pen this poem on a regular office day
These thoughts pester, in my mind, all the way
Why the wait, I wonder, to do it all at once?
Why the hurry to fit it into one single month?
What's the fuss over the day?
What's with the impulse, to which we sway?
If you love somebody, just show it anyway.
If you love a party, get down with it anyway.
If you want to buy stuff, why wait?
If you want to gift, why wait?
If you want to pretty up your crib, pretty it up already.
If you want to make a fuss, why suffer and wait for the Christmas Bus?
I'm still looking for mine, for years on end.
It doesn't look like there is one that will justify the trend
When you find yours, one that makes at least some sense
I will consider some in all this nonsense
I don't need an excuse, leave alone an excuse for Christmas or any other season.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes...
I Samuel 6:22
"I will not become even more undignified that that. No, not intentionally. Neither will I be humiliated in my own eyes. The Lord didn't make me to tear me down for a joke. I don't get the point. Either have no (intrinsic) self-worth or self-value. Why would I ever, now?"
I will dance, I will sing,
Sensibly for my King,
The work of God is better directing the passion in my soul,
And I'll remain perfectly dignified like this,
It really doesn't concern me what anyone may think,
And I'll remain perfectly dignified like this.
I will dance, I will sing,
Sensibly for my King,
The work of God is better directing the passion in my soul,
And I'll remain perfectly dignified like this,
Call it a dose of God-given self worth,
And I'll remain perfectly dignified like this.
I might dance, I might sing,
I might seem glad for my King,
I don't have to bust a move when I am joyous in the Lord,
But I'll remain perfectly dignified like this,
It's not about mode, It's about heart and soul,
But I'll remain perfectly dignified like this
I may not dance, I may not sing,
But I'll surely have joy for my King,
I may not jump, scream and shout, for that matter, for my Lord.
And I'll be sure to maintain my dignity like
I was made and won't act like no throwaway
And I'll be sure to maintain my dignity like that
Must I dance? Must I sing? When I am glad for my King?
He knows better than for me to do it for the sole sake of going so far
But I know I'm a child of God, regardless
If I have two left feet or if I can't move for nuts
But I know I'm a child of God, regardless
Do I have to dance? Do I have to sing?
Is God such a narcissistic King?
Do I really have to do go ALL the way?
But I don't have really have a point to make
If it just don't flow, there's nothing to show
No, I don't have any point to make at all?
Saturday, March 27, 2010
When we look at the reality and the working aspect of our faith, the Bible speaks of it being validated by its fruit (Matthew 7:20) and a bad tree cannot give good fruit and vice versa (Matthew 7:17-18). So to bear the fruit of our faith, we must abide in Him and He in us (John 15:4). Therefore, abiding and bearing fruit are not separate modes of functioning. It is only by abiding in Him that we can bear fruit. In no other way can we bear the fruit of our faith.
So therefore, our efforts towards our faith should be directed towards abiding (Being) in Him and not the fruit (Doing). At the same time, Being and Doing go hand in hand and the whole matter of action ought not to be an issue. All the while, we must realize that if we do not know Who we are talking about (if we are not in Him) when we do in His name, our actions are like empty vessels. If we do but not in His name, we are not really doing something worthy of the faith that we profess.
When we say Doing, it is not just the few things that we do a day, week or month that constitute profession of our faith in action. The Bible asks that our every millisecond is worthy of our God (and of our faith) (Romans 12:1, 1Corinthians 6:19). Included is everything we say and do - right from the get go.
Now having established that our faith is fully animate by virtue of us serving a Living God and that it is more than just a code of conduct and a way to be, our Being lies in the relationship that we have with our God when we abide in Him and He in us. The relationship with God is ongoing (always in present continuous tense) and growing (the sweet communion gets better every day). If this relationship that is ongoing and growing is the root of our faith, staying in tune with the root of our faith in order to BE so that we DO and thereby speak well of our faith in our actions is very vital. There is nothing that needs attention more than this. This is so vital that it is the only thing that needs attention – the rest that follows is only by the way.
Jeremiah 17: 7-8 talks about a man who is rooted in such a manner in God saying “neither shall cease from yielding fruit”. Fruits in any case grow by default and only by being rooted in to the source right and proper. There can be no other way that one can be fruitful. If the tree or plant is not right and proper, the fruits will grow likewise or will not grow at all. The tree or plant, in any case if it existed, would have to be planted in something to exist (and grow). It would simply be fruit of that in which it is planted.
What comes to mind is Luke 10: 38-42. When Martha asked Jesus to ask Mary to help because there was much work to be done instead of simply sitting at the feet of Jesus, Jesus answered her in saying, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Let us then do that which is necessary which cannot be taken away from us. Furthermore, it is necessary because we cannot do what more God expects of us unless we do that first. We are also to do it ALWAYS because it is the very blood that runs through the veins of our real and living faith – simply sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus is the only source of our everything. He is reason we exist. He is the reason for our salvation. He is the reason we have hope of a better world to come. For without him, we are nothing. In Him, we are everything. He is the embodiment of our hope, and all that our faith results in is only because of that hope - bereft of which it becomes devoid. In short, if we have not Christ, we, then, have no story to tell of His salvation. Then, we have no story to tell at all.
It must not be forgotten that at the feet of Jesus is the place where the Christ life starts and remains.
Having the established that the Christ Life starts at the feet of Jesus and remains there, there are certain almost obvious implications.
1) We bespeak our belief and therefore our God in ALL things we do. The range of doing this goes from the way we dispense the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our every word/action and the tone we speak/do those words/actions with (the general default fruits of the Spirit) to the larger more specific works and life choices that we decide to take up (careers/life direction). It must, by all means, be worthy of God (and the Word of God) and that is the test. Christ Life that is at the feet of Jesus will be such by default. We must check it by the Word and always also think about and must really consider whether the things we do are really worthy of the God that we proclaim asking ourselves why we do them which then involves going back to the point of it - Christ.
2) Sitting at the feet of Jesus is not an activity that keeps busybodies busy with activities that are representative of Who our tree is planted in - it keeps us busy in Who our tree is indeed planted in. We simply bear fruit thereof. Once you are busy in activity and the activity becomes the mainstay, you no more sit at the feet of Jesus. You move away from the feet of Jesus to the activity.
3) All our works (actions) must remain inspired. The true Christ Life, especially the works aspect, is only resultant of sitting at the feet of Jesus. We can only keep our works inspired if we are sitting at the feet at Jesus. Our efforts must therefore not be towards fabricating works that ought to come from sitting at the feet of Jesus but towards remaining at the feet of Jesus. All else will follow suit. It would then become like limiting your understanding of Jesus to a few x number of things that He is and is not and working in accordance with that and not the real living Him. It does not, then, remain an animate faith and boils down to works not worthy. We should rather just abide in Him and let the Him in us speak for itself.
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness."
So, if I may rephrase – we must do what you are given to do in the proportion and manner that we are given to do it with. Now, the celebritist culture can lead us and has lead us to think that we are not as useful as someone else and the types who are spectators and not actors of the Christian faith, so to speak. The Bible does address this in…
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
I Corinthians 12:31
The reference above speaks of this “most excellent way” to “desire the best gifts”. If you read on right up to the 14th chapter, this most excellent way is Love.
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts...”
I Corinthians 14:1
It also instructs that these gifts are to be made manifest most importantly with love.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
I Corinthians 13:1-3
What would this love be by Biblical definition?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”
I Corinthians 13:4-8
The manifestation of our gifts ought to be guided by the love the above verse describes. Moreover love (this love) is the love that we know to be God and that which comes in abiding in Him for true Love is God (rather God is love) as it says in I John 4.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. “
“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him”
I John 4:7, 13, 16
Then comes the question – How do we follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts?
Let us take a look at the following references surround the passages that have been referred to. The verse that unites the message regarding of how we are to “eagerly desire the best gifts” is very much akin to…
“Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”
I Corinthians 10:23-24
The passages in question are exhorting the believer to use their gifts for benefit of others. In particular…
“But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified. Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?”
“You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified”
I Corinthians 14:3-6, 17
One important thing to implement with our gifts is that we serve the purpose of Love through them. As discussed I John 4, (only) God is Love and to love we have to be born of God, know God and live in God (vs. 7, 16) by which we bear fruit of Him…
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
…and therefore of Love (since God is Love). It is not an intended effort but rather a resultant effort.
A close to the topic is only apt in the form of…
“Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.”
“But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written:
"Through men of strange tongues
and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
but even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord.”
I Corinthians 14:7-9, 19-21
There is a sure balance between the two. While we must speak “intelligible words” using our gifts which translates into effective communication of whatever means concerning the gift in question, it also means that we must be always speaking fully completely of God concerning which I Corinthians 12:3 says…
“Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.”
…by which we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to do it intelligibly taking into consideration the need of the ones whom we are ministering to.
Therefore if you consider yourself a non actor in the Kingdom of God, you must eagerly desire the greater gifts and do so by following the way of love, by being in God who is love, intending to edify the Kingdom of God (inclusive of the Church) by asking God himself to bestow them on us if He so intends and enable you to reach out to his people and the unreached intelligibly.
But do not think that you have not a role to play if you think that you are not bestowed a gift. Each step of the way that you take in Christ is an act that bringeth forth fruit the fruit of God from one who is in God and that can go a long way if you strut your stuff as God would enable you too. We must be as we are called and furthermore as we are enabled to be and must also think of ourselves in the role that God has placed us in no less that we ought to like the different parts of the body play their own roles each as in I Corinthians 12.
The celebritist nature that we impose on people who seem to be “more talented” than us must not perturb our role in the Kingdom of God and we must consider ourselves as equal as each one of our brothers in Christ differing only the grace that has been given to us to do that which God would have of us but toward Christ and His Kingdom is our call and we all play our parts as needed as the other by God’s ordination.
In keeping with His motto of functioning, when we look at the set institutions that our beliefs have crystallized into – well defined structures with a pre defined statement of belief for those who enter it after they are created – there is a reality to address. That is the reality of being real in the midst of all this Institutionalization and subsequent Crystallization. Maybe a better question to ask is if whether it is really worth.
On one hand, it did not come about with the explicit intention to Institutionalize rather it came about with, as history tells the story, the recognition of the fellowship of the people of the same mind and beliefs. There are of course different cases where such is not the case but as early as Institutionalization is known to have happened the intention was as pure – to simply state belief with those like-minded – fellowships which grew and which inspired further fellowships both by their passion (to create similar ones) and by their differences (steering away from the root Reason To Be – something that is arguable – very!!!).
With the years that these have been passed down, they have stayed put as they were ages ago when they were created and have been strictly been followed and taught – the basis of which has remained the certain assumptions that have remained assumptions that include those that have Bible Basis (something that is also arguable – very!!!) and those that don’t but which have not been questioned. Call it second hand belief if you will. Hence we have doctrine, creed, dogma, statement of belief, tradition – all not bad – each with their own kinks.
Now the question to be asked is are these things leading us in the right direction to God? Once having sound belief and understand of why it is that each one of us believe the beliefs that we do, then we can make a better discernment of these things. That these are sound is a separate matter. If we were to educate (ourselves and others) of their relevance in belief, would they make sense in actually taking the trouble to do them? Or in prospect of the reality of what we believe, must we just be as our expressive selves as would be the mandate – concentrating on the BEing in Him and in effect leaving the expression to be made manifest as it will be? Basically not even consider intended institutionalization and crystallization even if it stared us in the face and let it take root from the Root in us.
Now even if we deinstitutionalize and decrystallize or if we don’t, it is important that we are grounded right. That we don’t run our lives on belief handed down the centuries which we simply believe since it has been handed the centuries but on the Root of it (which involves the knowing of the Root of it) and what He has said his Word which is why (assumably) those beliefs are paramount. It must be rooted back to where they came from and not because it was again handed down from another person but because it is known by the believer.
A very strong factor in this institutionalized and crystallized or deinstitutionalized and decrystallized belief is the living if it and not the mere theological aspect of it for belief reduced to mere theology is not one that is worthy. When we intently Institutionalize and Crystallize real life belief manifestations** in both in Christian and “non-Christian” setups run by Christian people/minds, we may pose a block for the Holy Spirit to work through us as He would because that is the streamlined manner that we have set ourselves to function in. It, being crystallized, can’t be broken easily once it is a set process in motion even if we desire for the Spirit to work within such a setup.
It may not be always so that a Crystallized setup is detrimental to the work of the Spirit in our lives. It may be of the Spirit and may be as accommodating as it is required to be (maybe even more) for the work of the Lord to be accomplished. But a Christian individual/organization or group, while focused on certain kinds of work, is Christian (read Representative of Christ) by nature primarily and secondary to which is an agendaized individual engaged towards certain kind(s) of work. Institutionalization and Crystallization must not allow him/her or the organization to make his/her life or its work consist less of being Representative of Christ and more of the set agenda.
There must be a balance between the two – Institutionalization/Crystallization & a Free Form Structure that allows one to do the Lord’s bidding as the inspiration flows. While the former keeps discipline which we so need, the latter allows for the free flowing of the inspiration from Heaven to turn into action in the manner that the Spirit leads. Our structures must not disallow the Holy Spirit to work among us and inspire us to work as we must. Our Free Form Structure must not allow things that are not Representative of Christ in the free spirited (and not so free spirited) manifestations that result from belief. The best amalgamation of the two, in the light of the above said, is Institutionalization/Crystallization of Bible based (and Spirit led) belief and a Free Form Structure that allows for manifestation of that as the Spirit would lead. Key phrase – AS THE SPIRIT WOULD LEAD.
P.S:- Institutions are not created. They ARE or they are based on ARE's.
Christ is an Institution and the Church (local or global) is not.
Belief is an Institution and doctrine is not
Worship is an Institution and a schedule/program/agenda is not
Obedience is an Institution and following protocol is not
Sacrifice is an Institution and involvement in the Lord's work* (in its guise) is not necessarily one
Giving is an Institution and how you are available to be taken/asked of is not.
All Institutions ought to stay put while manifestations must take their course AS LED BY THE SPIRIT.
- Sunil Noronha
* As the Lord may lead
** Belief in action - ways in which it is lived out during each moment of our everyday lives (for belief reduced to mere theology is not one that is worthy)
At one level (let's call it LEVEL 1), we thank God for material blessings. Home and hearth, family and kin. Health and wealth, roof over our heads, clothes on our bodies, food to eat, needs being met, healing from sickness, prayers answered, etc, etc. "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance," we say with the Psalmist. Basically, this is saying thanks for a good digestion, for a long life, for our fluffy pillows, for not being born or living in modern-day Afghanistan (or even Orissa these days!!!), etc. If in fact we had continued hardships, our spirit of thanks would vapourise like the morning mist.
At another level (LEVEL 2), we thank God for deeper things. We talk of thanks for being "saved" (whatever that means), of being "God's children" (we never ask HOW, but we take it for granted anyway). We thank God for "who He is" (or rather, who we think He is).
When this level gets deeper, the polite, anonymous, discreet world of "saying thanks" disappears. It is replaced by a world where other words quickly appear and become themes of life. We no longer just MOUTH thanks with our lips. We live it with our lives. We're so utterly and irrevocably altered and transformed by knowing that though God needn't have had anything to do with our filthy lives, He still chose to sign His matchless Name with our pariah lives, took us home, and nursed us back to life. Even if He asked NOTHING in return, we are prepared to give EVERTYHING, even our lives.
In this deepest of levels (LEVEL 3), words like "gratitude" appear. Do you realise that whereas you can easily "thank" someone you don't really know too well politely for a perfunctory favour, it is impossible to feel gratitude to a stranger? Gratitude IMPLIES relationship. You've GOT to know the person you are grateful to, and you have GOT to know what he/she did for you or means to you, to feel GRATITUDE. Gratitude has none of the anonymity of mere "THANKS". And gratitude becomes more of a life statement, an attitude, a way of living. We don't just SAY thanks, we LIVE IT every moment.
At which level are you today?
If you're at LEVEL 1, God is associated with security in life, and only security in life. If today you were suddenly transplanted to Afghanistan, God would become academic to you, because your survival and your security would become paramount. God would be a luxury to you that you couldn't afford. At LEVEL 1, we make security and survival our only goals in life; if God supplies these, well, let Him be God; if He doesn't, we move on. LEVEL 1 terminology is "thanks" (if at all), not "gratitude". God might as well be a stranger.
If you're at LEVEL 2, you "accepted" or "made a decision for" Christ at some time you can vaguely remember. It was like, among the many options that life presented, Christ seemed the most lucrative, so you "chose" Him. You feel entitled to a lot of rewards, one of which is 'eternal life' and 'going to heaven' - you feel God MUST bless you with this because of YOUR great step of just picking up His free gift. It's just as business-like and transactional as it was in LEVEL 1, but here there is a small warmth of possible relationship. At least, some of the terminology is better :):) But it is still THANKS more than GRATITUDE, because the relationship isn't as cemented as can be.
If you're at LEVEL 3, a whole new world has opened up. Levels 1 and 2 don't even seem like levels anymore; for those of us in LEVEL 3, there are only two levels - either LEVEL 3 or NOTHING. At LEVEL 3, even life is too small a price to pay for what Christ has done for us. Think for a moment of what that really means. It means that we understand fully the following:
1) Before we met Christ, we were objects of wrath meant for destruction in hell, just like the 'devoted things' Achan stole.
Ephesians 2:1-4 says: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.
We weren't just people who did not know God; we were objects of wrath destined to be destroyed by fire. All our goodness, our coming to church, our tithing, our appreciation of spiritual things, mean NOTHING, till we realise that before we met Christ, we were headed straight for destruction. The 'good' ones among us would share the same fate as the 'evil' ones.
2) There was nothing we could have done to help ourselves. We might have done some "whitewashing" of the tombs of our lives, but our bodies would still only be housing dead spirits, just like whitewashed tombs.
Romans 5:6 says: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
3) In fact, we did nothing; God did everything.
Colossians 2:13 says: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.
I John 4:10 says: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Have we forgotten that it is always God who makes the first move in reconciliation?
4) We take no credit for being saved; we just live our lives in gratitude.
Ephesians 2:8 says: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
Think long and hard about the implications of being in LEVEL 3. Here we have moved on from being mere acquaintances with God, to a loving, deep, intimate relationship that God initiated even WHILE we lay undeserving. In response, merely spouting insincere thankful phrases in church won't do....our deep, deep gratitude must be plain to see, a testimony to God and to others, in each moment of our lives. We now realise that we do not live for ourselves at all. Every moment of our lives, we are deeply reminded of what wretches we were, and what we are now raised to.
This has to be life-changing. I seriously challenge you to consider the implications of LEVEL 3 and still go on living your life unmoved. Here are the distinguishing marks of LEVEL-3 Christians:
1) We are REPENTANT people. Every moment is a moment of repentance. There is no sense of "right-ness" inside us except in the Cross of Jesus Christ. We are so deeply grieved at sin that we ruthlessly root it out in our own lives.
2) We look at ALL THINGS (no exceptions; blanket rule - no fine print) through one single mirror - the Cross of Jesus Christ. If the Cross does not matter to us, if it does not bring repentance rushing in to our daily life, then we are still in outer darkness, though we may come to church every Sunday. The Cross of Christ should do MORE than just matter - it should be the only hinge on which our lives turn. Nothing less is enough; nothing more can it be.
3) We have no RIGHTS, except the right to be identified with the Cross of Jesus Christ and all that it means. We have signed away our rights to our earthly comforts, our 'entitledness' and our 'deservedness', even our very physical lives. We have just one thing, that we hold on to with all our being - the Cross of Jesus Christ. This does not mean that we just give away ourselves to charity - whatever we hold, we hold as stewards of the one who gave it to us. This applies as a blanket rule to ALL THINGS we have been given - all material and all spiritual blessings. We are to treat NONE of it as our own, but be faithful stewards who will give an account to our Father on that day.
4) Our lives are gratitude itself. Since we can never repay, we DESPERATELY hope that we can at least be as grateful as we possibly can, in ALL THINGS. We feel we don't have enough time to be grateful!!!!
5) Our preoccupations, our thoughts, our lives are built around God's marvelous work of redemption in us; we can never stop marveling at it. In fact, we FEEL so blessed that we continuously step out in faith, trusting in God for great things and putting our lives at stake. We expect God to do great things all the time. Tell me this - what is being a Christian COSTING us today? If our answer is "nothing", then our focus is not right. There must be a spirit of sacrifice, of denial to oneself, of giving up.
6) We want to keep on telling the wondrous story of the Cross!!!! We can never tell it enough.
7) We don't merely live for our needs or for our security; we live first for Jesus and then purely for others, and lastly, for ourselves. We've stopped providing for our needs; God's doing that already, we say; rather, let me do something for Him!!!!!
8) We've finally learned that WE ARE NOT THE POINT; GOD IS!!!!! In Levels 1 and 2, we thought we were the point of everything. In LEVEL 3, the scales drop - we realise that we have been left alive on this earth only to glorify God with our lives.
I want to ask a serious question - is your thankfulness for material blessings and secuirty MORE than your gratitude for Jesus and the Cross? If so, you have a serious, serious problem. If the Cross of Christ is only something you think about at Church, you have a log in your eye. Are your prayers only for material and physical needs? Then you're not getting through to God, and neither is God getting through to you.....
It's not possible to come to God without coming to Jesus. And it's not possible to come to Jesus unless you come to the Cross.
I pray that I will not thank God merely with my lips on Sunday, but that I would come to the Cross and feel my gratitude for the Cross so much that I will live every moment for Jesus. I want to move deeper into what the Cross means, because it is the SUPREME expression of God's love for me.
The writer to the Hebrews said, addressing LEVEL 1 and 2 Christians, in my view:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
- Hebrews 5:11-14 and 6:1-4
How long ago did we 'accept' Christ? How have we grown in our knowledge of God since then? We sit in church Sunday after Sunday, but is it possible we still are living 'on milk' and not on 'solid food'? Is our knowledge of Christ still the same as the day we first believed? How can our knowledge have grown, when we still are grappling with the 'elementary teachings about Christ' and still scrambling to meet our own needs, bargaining with God for blessing after blessing? Forget being teachers, we still need teaching (and that too elementary teaching) ourselves, even now!!!
If our encounter with Christ has NOT PROVEN TO BE a life-changing one, then we would have to question whether there was an encounter at all in the first place; because it is not possible to truly come to Christ and live the same life after that.
Every Christian (active and believing Christians for there can be no other) must have a reason to believe what he/she believes. And must be able to express it and more importantly say it when asked. More than often, reason for believing is taken to be theology - which is understood as complicated funda among other things. While theology itself is quite a "deep" topic, reason to believe is not deep at all. It is only as deep as our understanding, knowledge and experience of God Himself.
This is something I have always argued for. If we know a BIG God, then how can we restrict talking about our BIG God to few and small words? That depends on the size of the God that we know. And since we know the SAME God, our basic reason to believe and hence the manner of expression of that must hardly differ. For some, even a note such as this will be considered theology but (correct me if I am wrong) is far from it. If my reason to believe is the same as another's and that person were to express it in 20 words and me in 500 words, then surely we will be able to see eye to eye on the matter because we will recognize the essence of what we both believe.
The expression (outright by default) of one's reason to believe can be creative and can take the form of painting, writing, singing, songs, music etc. In all cases of expression, we must be able to SAY it and back up what WE say. Let us take for example, if someone were to wear a shirt saying "God Loves You" to his school/college where he is questioned as to what God, how He loves him/her, where this God is etc., one cannot state his/her reason to believe by saying "Listen to this song. It tells you all about it", "Look at this painting I drew. It is based on what I believe" or "I wrote a piece on my reason to believe. Here it is". He/she must be able to say it clearly, in other words SPEAK it. An inability to speak it shows that there is an improper/unfounded/unsound understanding of what he/she believes - basically that they don't know what they are talking about.
A factor that enables one to effectively SPEAK what is believed is the fact that they have experienced what is believed. Infact, it is the experience that makes them as passionate about what they believe and which directs their outrightness in expression. Speaking it, then, becomes a non-issue in such a case and is done with ease. If I may be allowed to use the pun BE/LIVE for the word believe. My understanding of belief, especially of that in Christ, is that we must BE it and LIVE it. If we BE it and LIVE it, then surely we will KNOW it to SPEAK it to do which we must EXPERIENCE it.
Therefore, I encourage you that when you speak your belief (in any form) that it be founded to do which you must know the what, why and how of it. This what, why and how needn't be a theological or apologetic exposition of any sort. It must be the reason why YOU believe. By that reason, you must be totally convinced that it is what to be believed. It could be simple faith, the fact that there is nothing else more convincing, reason, logic, 2+2 must be equal to 4, common sense, the fact God or anything sensible/credible cannot contradict itself...whatever is YOUR reason to believe but it must be founded. Founded in this case would obviously mean founded on the Bible and hence the God of the Bible.
It is worth studying the Scripture to get a deeper understanding of this mystery. As we read through various passages, remember the basic rule of interpretation: scripture must interpret scripture.
Let us start with Paul’s writing to the Colossians 1:15 “He is the image of the Invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” In verses 15-20 Paul is writing about supremacy of Christ Jesus that it is by Christ that all things were created and it is in Him all things hold together. Coll 1:15 tells us that God is invisible and that Christ is the only image of the invisible God.
This doctrine is established by Jesus himself when he was faced with Philip’s request for a conclusive revelation of the Father himself whom Jesus was talking about through out his ministry. In John 14:8-10 Philip said to Him “ Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him “ Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so, how can you say “Show us the Father?” Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? Coll 1:15 makes perfect sense when we read it in conjunction with Jn 14:8-10. Jesus was trying to tell Philip that God the Father is invisible and the only way Philip could see the Father is in Jesus himself.
Let us look at another scripture in Hebrews 1:1-4:
“God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, who He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better that the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”
The author of Hebrews confirms Coll 1:15 by saying that Jesus is the express image of God the Father which again confirms Jn 14:10 and Jn 1:18. This is scripture interpreting scripture. One is complimenting and confirming the other.
Here are a few more passages that support the same doctrine:
John 5:37 "And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form."
John 6:46 "Not that any man hath seen the Father, except he who is from God, he hath seen the Father."
I John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
We read in the passage of the woman at the well, Jesus said to her in Jn 4:24 “God is spirit and his worshipers must worship him in spirit and truth.” This supports the doctrine that God the Father is spirit and Jesus is his true image.
• Jn 4:24 God is spirit
• Coll 1:15 God is invisible
• John 1:18 No-one has ever seen God the Father
• John 6:46 Only Jesus has seen God the Father
• Coll 1:15 Jesus is the only image of God the Father
• Jn 14: 9 The only way to see God the Father is in Jesus
If God the Father is invisible, whom did Abraham see in Gen 18:1 or David see in Psalm 110:1 or whom did Isaiah see in Chapter 6? Let us examine the Word of God comparing the Old and New Testament passages. Remember,
Scripture must interpret scripture.
Case study 1: David
Psalm 110:1 The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, untill I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
Mt 22:41-45 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them saying “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord” saying: The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
If David calls Him ‘Lord’, how is He his Son?
From the above passages, we clearly understand that David (1011-971 BC) in Psalm 110:1 had an encounter with God the Father speaking to the Son. And Jesus was challenging the scriptural insight of the Pharisees by saying that if He (Christ) existed before David, how then can be Jesus the son of David? And although we find David in the genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:6), when He chose to be physically born into this world through Mary, in reality Christ was always there along side with the Father and His Spirit as the Triune God.
Read the following verses to understand this truth:
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Vs14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His Glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Colossians 1:16: For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Revelation 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”
Isaiah 9:6: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
Note that the Son was not born, only a Child was born. Son was given. Which means to say that the Son existed even before He was born as a child to Mary and Joseph.
Case study 2: Moses
Exodus 3:13-14 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘what is His name? What shall I say to them?”
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM” sent me to you.
John 8:56-58 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and He saw it and was glad. Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM”
I see Jesus making two important points in this passage:
1. Abraham saw Christ in the Old Testament.
2. The “I AM” Moses met in Exodus 3:14 was Christ.
Now this may seem contradictory to what you may traditionally believe, but, scripture must interpret scripture. Now the real question is, if David, Moses and Abraham met Christ in the Old Testament, did they meet God the Father as well?
Again, scripture must interpret scripture.
John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Colossians 3:15 He is the image of the Invisible God.
So it seems that God the Father is invisible and no one has seen the Father at any time, which leads us to the probability that it was Jesus who appeared to all these men of God in the Old Testament.
Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out their journey from the wilderness if Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
Therefore people contended with Moses, and said “Give us water,
that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?”
And people thirsted there for water, and the people murmured against Moses and said “Why is it you have brought us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. And take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go.
“Behold I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying “Is it the Lord among us or not?”
The New Testament confirms the identity of this Rock. Take a look at Paul’s letter to Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink.
For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them and the Rock was Christ.
If the person (LORD-17:5) addressing Exodus 17 is Christ, who is in previous chapters or books?
We read in God’s Word that men of God have heard the voice of both the Father’s and the Holy Spirit. For example, Father’s voice was heard in MK 1:11 during the baptism of Jesus saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The same was heard by the disciples on the mount of transfiguration in Mt 17:5. The disciples heard the Holy Spirit for example in Acts 13:2 “As they ministered to Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” But I haven’t found a passage with conclusive evidence of men seeing the God the Father of God the Holy Spirit.
Case Study 3: Isaiah
Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple.
John 12:37-41 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, Lest they should see with their eyes And understand with their heart, lest they should turn, so that I should heal them.”
These things Isaiah saw when He saw His (Jesus – NIV) glory and spoke of Him.
Isaiah 48:12-13 “Listen to Me O Jacob, and Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.
Now compare with what Jesus said in the book of Revelation.
Rev 22:12-13 And behold I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give everyone according to his work.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,
the First and the Last.
Take a look at this verse: The only verse I have found in the Old Testament, which clearly states three persons in the Trinity.
Isaiah 48:16 “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I (Christ) was there. And now the Lord God (Father) and His Spirit (Holy Spirit) have sent Me.”
From the above verse it is clear that the person who was addressing Isaiah was Christ.
Case Study 4: Solomon
Carefully read through the passage given below, compare with the references and conclude in your own heart if this passage is talking about Christ.
12: I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion. (Wisdom seems to be a person who is addressing)
13: The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
14:Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength.
(Isaiah 9:6 The Counselor)
15: By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice.
(Rev 1:5 Ruler over the kings of the earth.)
16: By me princes rule and nobles, all the judges of the earth.
(Rom 13:1 All authorities are appointed by God.)
17: I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. ( Mt 7:7 Seek and you will find)
18: Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness.
19: My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver.
( Rev 3:18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in fire that you may be rich..)
20: I traverse the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice.
21: That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.
(Mt 6:20 … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….)
22: The Lord possessed me at the beginning of the way, before His works of old.
( Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.)
23: I have been from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was even an earth.
24: When there was no depths I was brought forth, when there was no fountains abounding with water.
25: Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was bought forth;
26: While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
27: When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28: When He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
29: When He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters could not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth,
30: Then I was beside Him, as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him,
31: Rejoicing in His inhabited world, and His delight was with the sons of men.
(Coll 1:16-17 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.)
32: Now, therefore, listen to me my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.
33: Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it.
34: Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
(Jn 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.)
35: For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord;
(Jn 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they m ay have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.)
36: But whoever sins against me wrongs his own soul; and all those who hate me love death.
(1 Jn 5:12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.)
Again, it seems that the person who is addressing this passage is Christ.
Though the voice of the Father was heard both at the baptism of Jesus and at the mount of transfiguration, I have not found any passage in the Scripture where it categorically says that God the Father has appeared to men. So, if the person in the Triune God who spoke to Moses, David and Solomon was Christ, was He not the same person who walked with Adam and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
Although, He was called the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) before coming down to earth in a bodily form, before His birth, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said to him that he shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. And thus He is called Jesus Christ. And thus the scripture is true that “He is the image of the invisible God”
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”
John 10:10. (KJV)
This abundant life that we receive from the Giver of it cannot be described as completely as it must be, even when said fully right, in words that comprise anyone’s vocabulary. So great indeed is this life – anyone who has it can only agree with me more. If you don’t have it, you will not fully know what I am talking about. Now the change, that takes one from a life of worldly non abundance to divine abundance meted out by the God of the Bible, is liberating to the extent you just want to revel in it, again you will only know it if you have been in it. And it is very likely that due to the sheer magnitude of it, you will not want to escape out of it. All this is understandable. While the Bible encourages corporate worship which is an entire topic by itself, there are stipulations according to which we must do much more than that.
One who has truly experienced the abundance in Christ cannot but live to tell it. Though you could look to the scriptures to quote many an example the best one being Acts 4:19-20, it is no secret that the abundance that comes from life in Christ is incomparable and simply makes you want to scream and shout it out. Whether or not you are heard or if another understands/hears it, it gives your soul utmost joy to simply express it out in a manner that is worthy of it.
The other stipulation is that, considering the abundance that we have in Christ in comparison to that which the world has, it is a plain crime by any means to hold it back from them. Let’s not forget we are told plainly told to be salt and light…
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV)
…which we cannot be if we simply revel in it constantly. We must go out and shine it. How else can we be salt and light unless we make the amazing and liberating truth of our life seen?
An unbiased observation of the points mentioned above in context to their relevance in today’s Christian community puts forth my point – Christian Entertainment. Once having tasted the liberation of Christ in our lives, it has become seen that many of us who have, seem to want find constant shelter in this reveling feeling. Possibly because of the amazingness of it and maybe because of the insecurity of losing it (read the not necessarily healthy emotional response to it). And hence, we do all we can to keep ourselves in it (understandably) via worship concerts, church activities and other means which eventually keep us away from the reality and the real world that the truth of Christ works in practice which is its testimony. At the same time, we ignore the second stipulation made in this article that we must be salt and light and tell. As a result, we choose to entertain this reveling feeling so that we don’t have to step down from it. Thus, we make it an establishment and a setup hence bringing about Christian Entertainment.
Hold that thought while I bring forth another adjoining thought that makes my point even clearer – Worship. Worship, as we know it experientially, can be compared to a glass of wine that overflows and the overflowing wine is what our worship is. When the glass is full and can’t hold anymore, the wine flows out because it can’t be held in any more. Biblically, we must not only worship Him for the abundant life that makes our cup overflow but also because He is who He is and He does what He does. Read Psalm 30:4, 9:1, 59:16, I Chronicles 16:9, 2 Kings 17:36...the list is long.
More importantly, if we are to worship the Lord out of His abundance in our lives, Him, His ways and His works then it is a natural thing to do because our glass is full and can’t possibly hold anymore and also because we simply must. Another aspect of worship is that it is to happen where you are. If indeed my God is a real God (like duh!!!) and His awesomeness is so awesome because it gets me where I am (need I assert that it is indeed so) then I will simply worship him where I stand and will do so immediately with no restraint in form or magnitude.
It is not an applied effort. The applied effort is to be in God which again is not an applied effort rather is the outcome of knowing God truly which is not hard considering what He has to “offer” in comparison to all/any worldly realm(s). Even the effort of breaking free from the clutches of our worldly holds is absolutely no effort, once we see the reason to break free from it via the bondage that it binds us under, unless we are truly blind. Even if the bondage has a hold on us beyond the power of our true intentions and actions (which could make us truly blind), God can even break through that with a snap of his finger if He wishes.
Making worship an institution and a setup to realise our desire to eventually constantly entertain the reveling (read emotional) feeling of knowing God is what Christian Entertainment is. But God is a real God and anyone who has tasted the reality of God in their lives can testify that and that is the true test of what we proclaim at these worship concerts, at every moment of our lives, at times of praise in our churches and other means of Christian Entertainment. That is the reason He is the savior of not only you and me but the rest of the world who have real issues and problems and who live real lives. We cannot simply continuously revel in the emotional high of the feeling of knowing God because what validates its truthfulness is only its application. And I can assure you (and am sure that you will know if you have applied it) that once you do it, it beats the emotion by far. Each time you come back to worship the Lord after experiencing the reality of it, you can only see a greater God and hence worship a greater One. And when you go back again to experience this realer and bigger God, you will only come back and worship a much bigger and realer God the next time and believe me, there is no end to this. God is by all means absolutely HUGE & AWESOME bigger than your biggest dreams like you’ve ever dreamed ever.
This does not mean that one must not organise worship concerts, have church activities and more. This means that there is the need to draw the line at where it stops becoming worship and starts becoming entertainment. There is the need to nurture/teach/fellowship (read corporate worship) and there is the need to then take all that is taught and go and do. It becomes entertainment when we stop worshipping the Lord as our hearts lead us (read as we remain inspired to by Him) and continue worshipping him when it’s time to get out and be salt and light because we are so comfortable in the reveling feeling.
There is something wrong if a worship concert gets done by booking a hall at so and so place, getting sponsors, booking sound and lights, getting the “best” worship leader in town/nation/world, selling tickets, making posters selling the idea saying it will be an “awesome” worship concert by the “best” worship leader (any true worship by default is awesome) and telling people to come worship the Lord at so and so hall between such and such time. Worship is where you are and immediately. Where you are and immediately does not indicate that one must not take the trouble to organise it rather it should be representative of the collective desire of the community in question to come forth and glorify the Lord as their hearts lead them to. It is not as much a planned/organized event as it would be if it is not representative of the collective desire of a community. Moreover, any worship by itself does not constitute a “concert” unless misquoted when said in terms of organizational aspects.
The other category under this is church activities. The Church is a community of believers in the Bible and the God of the Bible and things that follow. While the Church (read leadership/pastors) should nurture its flock and teach them to live lives of God and go do what it is that God would have them do, it’s becomes a busybody filling its calendar with activities. If these activities actually contribute to their nurturing, they actually do no harm but the sheer volume of them keeps people in churches and does not send them out there – again only entertaining Christian selves to no profitable end towards the Kingdom of God.
Christian Entertainment is not a worthy enough cause in the name of our Awesome & Real God and moreover we are called to be salt and light of the earth. So entertaining our Christian selves is not called for and I can assure you that living it i.e being salt and light is far far far more entertaining that any worship concert or any other form of Christian Entertainment.
"A faithful man shall abound with blessings…"
…of course given that we are faithful. Now after having been given this privilege, we must understand that each one is given in his own measure.
"…according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…"
"…having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us…"
Now if we are given in our own measure of grace, then all forms of comparison in any context (excellence, form of expression, inclination or any other that there may be) are ruled out. No one is greater than he is and “ought not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think”. Furthermore, it also rules out any judgement and applied opinion/bias (thinking more than we ought) regarding such things.
By this evaluation, nothing in the Kingdom of God is discountable. Nothing should be taken for granted and nothing should be given any less value to but should be appreciated and valued “as they ought to be”.
Now the question arises - how much ought we to value and how much ought we not to value? How do we decide to what lengths it is that we should go to doing what we ought? What is it that which we ought to do in the first place?
The measure dealt out to us is the mandate of we ought and ought not think of ourselves. Measures dealt out vary according to the grace given to us and accordingly must we do as is our measure…
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness."
The question now is how to identify a measure dealt out in the first place. Measures of grace and the gifts thereof usually tend to be humanly categorised into broad distinctions (passable perfectly by normal human nature) and all proclaimed measures of grace and the gifts thereof as we may see them are not always true measures dealt by God.
Many things that may be considered to be such measures are sometimes used so that we make of ourselves that which is not in fact in line with what our true measure(s) of grace mandate and vice versa – we don’t recognise what indeed our measure is and are of no use in that respect (and in most cases in every other respect except that).
How then do we differentiate between a purported measure and a true measure of grace and the gifts thereof? Far from naming what true gifts given exactly are and are not, the Bible is very clear on what qualities these measures come with. For one, the weaker is given preference against the stronger, the unprivileged against the privileged, the one with lesser means against the one with more means…with equal support given to all members together suffering and rejoicing is done with an equal policy on sharing of burdens. Sufferance by one member eventually becomes sufferance by all once shared and similarly rejoicing.
"…and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness…having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it…"
1 Corinthians 12:20 – 26
Another quality of measures meted out to us is when we have a need – supply chain going when everybody plays their role to fill in the puzzle and pitch in. We need to fill the gaps for each other for as much as we can and are given measures of abundance that enable us to. We also need to look to others to fill the gaps in us so that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with each other - each one as strong (rather as strengthened) as the other.
"But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:"
2 Corinthians 8:14
The practical implication of it is clearly, in simpler words, an as-long-as-we-can-be-of-any-good-let-us-be-of-what-good-we-can-be stance. So, if you can either assist someone else’s measure by fitting your measure into the puzzle and helping complete it or if you can be of any help at all to anybody in achieving what their measures mandate (or do both), then that you must. This also goes to explain the giving of more honour to the part which lacked. By assisting each other, we abolish any disparity between measures and ensure equality of strength for all measures and purposes.
Thereby, everybody in every capacity has a role to play whether “small” or “big” and nothing/no one can be discounted in the light of God’s big amazing plan.
From birth till then is either too small a time to know it all or one is too young in during that period of time to know it all. There arestill dreams to make true which the world only makes harder, so muchmore to know because nobody else knows either or nobody knows anybetter to tell somebody else who is heading to where they have been. They pretty make their own rules. As long as things work, what theylive by is fine.
One can go ahead anyway and do it because that's the way its supposedto work but there'll be a lot to know and regret at the end of it all. With the change in times and the world getting more and more vague,nobody can afford to lose time, opportunity and a chance to wear their fascination out and get to know what they want to- find out if its what they need because there is no one to tell them, not even those who have been there.
They're going to keep on looking till they get what they want.Meanwhile the world can go around supported by anybody else who caresenough- of whom there are plenty who can afford to.
d what it wont.
It's an observation that when people don't understand, they assume.They assume what they already know or what is already known. It is instinct to dwell on known ground, especially when that is an option. Like how a child however small doesn't get frightened as long as he isholding the hand of someone he is familiar with or someone he knows.Upto a particular point in life, we don't feel the need to understandwhat kind the world is that lies around us after which we need tounderstand it so badly that we allow only a particular kind of worldto surround us.
A lot of how well you are the judge of what should surround you and what you should surround yourself with depends on the environment youhave been familiar with for the most part of your life. Since that hasevery chance of being biased, it may be just the best option to look inside ones self and find out where exactly, in what kind of anenvironment, that person deep inside can be accommodated.
A biased exposure to things unnecessary for that inner person doesn'tkill it. It can be denied and only denied but will still remain the essential core of every one of us respectively. Denying it onlyaggravates us more and we blame that aggravation on everything elsebut its denial. It is the route to any happiness that we can ever achieve. In and through it only can we find purpose. If you deny it, you'll feel guilty because it will feel so right.
The system doesn't give you credit on merit. It has a predecided list of things that you can do to be credited. This list is too general to cater to the development of the individual with the diversity of each of our specific abilities. If we are clever enough to realize that the credit would do us good, we'd get the credit giving it first priority.That credit gives us the respect we need from people who can "get us there". Beyond a point, qualification, achievement, capacity andability lose value and that respect takes us there. How you get it doesn't matter because once you get it, you are given charge and then you're free of the system and you can then handle matters how you wish to.
Through the system, we achieve our goals but it makes us compromise on our true essence in cases when there is a conflict of intrest. We end up wasting the time when we have the most potential by earning our way up the system. We get through it by the time that time is over and a lot of time gets wasted inbetween.
Just because it's said that every pleasures got its edge of pain, we shouldn't make it so. The trouble we sometimes go through to enjoy happiness makes us unable to make the whole process worthwhile. The system passes on a lot of regret and unhappiness from one generation to the next. That's the price you're going to have to pay anyway.Everyone from the previous generation goes through the process and we have to go through it too compromising and giving something or the other up.
Are the future generations going to keep on regretting? Are dreams going to be a heavily priced commodity forever and ever? For how long more is the regret going to be passed on or is it too late too ask that question? Is it for us now, this generation, to refuse to takethat regret on? Where will it go then? It cannot vanish into oblivion. Someone has to suffer for that to happen. Who will? Are people willing to forget and forgo all that having to regret makes them lose in the end?
The system makes us depend on it (because it determines our success) and then when we have passed through it, all stripped of our strength, we depend on it to move on further. What we lost through it, we don't allow the next generation to have or attain by pushing them throughthe system to lose the same. The system can only be disabled if we don't allow it define our rise up towards our goals. If it has to be passed through anyway, for what we lose through compromises we shouldnot blame it but press on until it breaks- atleast for us. If we havewhat it takes, we will make it. What "gets us there" will be our own merit and abilities and we wont have anyone to oblige and nothing to regret to blame anyone or anything in the end.
We repeatedly remind ourselves of the real world and how unrealistic it would be to head there. When we see potential, even more so when we can take it to where it can get the worth it deserves, we remind them and ourselves of the reality of life that it can only happen if itwill and that it can never happen if it wont. The other side is a place one is lucky'n privileged to be in. Potential plays no role inwhether you deserve to get across or not. If you gain passage to the other side and its not where you want to be, you might as well make use of it. But who wouldn't? Life doesn't get any better.
The secret of the other side is that there weren't supposed to be two sides. That should have been the end and this side should have been the beginning. The problem is that when you do what you love doing,you lay it all on the line. That involves risk and leaving things tochance but there's no safety net under you- that's the adventure part.That's what scares people. It holds them back from venturing across.
If no one can tell you any better and you don't know any better,figure it out for yourself. Figure out what you don't understand and what you want to know. For your own good, you wouldn't want to be as old as people who should have seen and known it all by virtue of their experience in life and be asked by someone as old as you are now about life and the way it works and be too illknowleged about it to givethem the answer. If that were the only way to go about things, anyother way around or about would only give you less. You cannot expect more out of life than what you put in.
One has to no more go through, look and search books, files and catalogues that would have replaced otherwise the list of sites thatcontain the information you want that you can get by entering a keyword on the Google Search engine page and then clicking on the search button. Every trade, art, vocation, passion and each of their individual styles have a website that the interests of the people whopursue them and most of them don't cost. You can enter a number ofcompetitions- some depending on your luck, some depending on your goodfortune and some depending how good you are- though it is still a undebated dispute whether those amounts are actually given away. Servers hosting email services keep on adding better facilities to the already offered services. The amount of space offered for email usage and storage is never ending. If you can't afford your own site, youcan have one on a Yahoo Groups!, Hotmail Groups or another suchfacility till you can actually afford your own space on the World Wide Web.
We can meet people whom we don't even know and whose introduction wecannot always trust but yet have a good decent conversation across amessenger service facility and not meet the same person again. He/she could be lying about his/her sex, age, education, family, location buttrust doesn't play a real vital role in such an interaction even if it's taken further. If they want to withhold more and lie about somemore, they can do so with the protection of a username that can tell you nothing about them ?-all of this not hurting anyone on either sideof the conversation. You are only having good harmless fun.
The Internet takes away the privilege of the joy of an in personinteraction. A lot of older people would say, if you asked them, that nothing beats writing a good old letter- not even an email. All that'sleft to say is that wires cant pass on soul if that is what everyinteraction is based on. Wires cannot speak the language of the heart.Maybe that's why we prefer the internet and more than that the speedand convenience that it brings us because all of that put togethergive us a good enough excuse to distance ourselves from the trouble ofa real soul to soul interaction with people-both whom we love and who are not acquainted with us, the difficulty of what it would take tomake our dreams come true and the reality of how hard, cold and mean"the real world" and real life can be- things we've got to facesometime down the line.
Now take Probability 1:
You and me could have no taste for literature at all and would pass our judgements on it and say its boring...Considering that we have no idea what we are handling our opinoins would hold almost or no value at all.
Now, Probability 2:
One of us has a intrest of an appreciable level in literature and the other has nothing of that sort...Considering that the person knowing something about at an appreciable level, his views could do the expounding of that passage some good.
Say now for the arguments case assume that we both have an equal appreciable intrests in literature...in this case both our opinions would hold a little more value than the total value of the opinions expressed in the case of Probability 2.
Now say that you are either one totally clueless about literature or one with an appreciable level of intrest in literature and the other guy is the writer of the piece...whose opinion would prove more profitable then in expounding the piece-the writer or himself or the other person.
Think about it...God is not finding us a solution out of this mess called life. He is not saying that he has a way out. He is saying that he created it all and hence will know more about it than anybody else.
On the other hand, such a strengthened status of faith, strengthened through pretension will lose all that it is strong of once the truth is known that it was strengthened by a pretentious act of support. Victims will look for true strength else where, a search that will upset their entire basic belief system but lead them to either find a different version of the same belief system that has no hitches or give up searching for any belief system.
Its better that we keep any action concerning our differences, whether to resolve them or to maintain them, silent. Since they are too difficult to resolve without either or both of us blowing our tops off, its better kept undercover because it will cause more damage than good.
A Church should have its greatest impact within its four walls. When that is achieved the impact will be felt, multiplied by its strength, outside. It nurtures and should be nurtured back in turn. People who stand by it in event of good, bad, exciting and boring times. There is no provision that one should but they inherit the role of nurturing it. They nurture it until they have nurtured the next in line. That's the way it's supposed to work. Their service is not to the Church but to God. No kind of response should change their interest in performing this duty.
It needs to be understood that failure on ones part shouldn't stop the cycle otherwise the system breaks. Each one of us should play our part and not let that hinder us. Blaming and pointing fingers doesn't help. Compromising only weakens the system. We should remember that we arenot accountable to anyone down here for anything we do. There is the Man up above whom we are to live for. As much as He is our master, He is our father and brother too. In our service to Him, He wants to enjoy, and he wants us to enjoy too, the communion that it brings.
I've figured out what satisfies them.
I feel that they are stupid.
They don't make much sense to me.
These things, they make life, at least as it should be.
I'll suppose you're only passing through if you show no interest.
I feel terribly wrong, just playing along
Now and here is what and when counts
You can go a long way by what goes anyway
Things can really get out of hand
if we make our own rules over and over again because the rules that we made and were
following earlier didn't do us any good
You're going to have to understand sometime down the line that if you're going to get anywhere during the course of your life
You're going to have to give into the calling for which this life is purposed
That calling we have no say in
That calling's been determined well in advance
That calling's your place in the cycle that's created
so that the world doesn't stop turning
That calling's no enslavery
It doesn't bind you down from anything
Freedom is only a choice in which you choose the consequence that follows
To only pass through or not, you can choose.
Passion defines purpose and is borne within ones self
Passion is contagious and needs no
instigative response to be going strong
Passion comes from deep within ones heart and soul and only has the ability to speak to another's heart and soul
It can irritate you or you can fall in love with it
Apart from standing in awe of it whether you choose to deny it or not
Passion lives life for you otherwise you don't live at all
Passion isn't a rat race, it's the goal of life
It separates one only passing through one living life away
If it irritates you, it shows you only want to pass through
Along with my father, she never made times seem bad.
She was the greatest woman alive.
A disciplinarian, she made me what I am.
So if people have been telling you, you ought to be like me
This poems for you, listen to me good.
I studied and was ordained a priest in the church
But that didn't teach me things that it should've
Things I wanted to know.
Brother Peter, I used to talk to him a lot
He told me to preach faith till I have it, till it's all I got
But that didn't make my heart feel strangely warmed.
I went to a meeting I didn't really want to go to.
Someone was reading Luther's Epistle to the Romans
Then at about quarter to nine, at that point in time
The part being dealt with how God changes
the heart of a man through faith in Christ
Then I felt my heart strangely warmed.
From then on, I just couldn't hold it in any longer
My urge to tell the world kept on growing stronger
So I did what no ones done as yet in the name of the Lord
I traveled on horse back as far and wide as I could
Letting peopleknow what they should
So that their hearts too might feel strangely warm
I did what I could for as long as I can
I wasn't a messiah, I was only a man
Now the remaining is left to you
If it wasn't for me, it wouldn't have been for you
If it isn't for you, it wont be for
so many people's hearts feeling strangely warm
Before I leave with this to ponder upon
et me tell my secret what made me go on is that
Salvation is all about that point in time.
he power you have is not got during the aftermath
You're as saved as you are when you have what you got
only during the instant when you made your choice
So, go and do what your heart tells you to
That depends if your hearts been warmed as yet and
Even if it does feel a little strange
But if you can't appreciate don't criticize because
The day will come when you'd really want to feel your heart strangely warmed
In another part of the world, is the same situation with a different person. This person thankfully is one whom you can call a semi-religous man. So God is no "stranger" to him. He opens the door he sees God standing at the door. God calls him by the name and says "Son, I have something that needs doing. I want you to do it for me" holding out in his hand a old parchment. He politely says to God, " God I am not interested working for you."
In a third similar situation, God knocks on the door of a religious enthusiast in a similar situation. He open the door to see God standing there. God calls him by the name and says "Son, I have something that needs doing. I want you to do it for me" holding out in his hand a old parchment. He politely asks God to come in for a cup of tea. Between sips of tea, God tells him about what he wishes getting done through him. After the discussion that he and God have, he says "God, I appreciate the nobility of the idea but people just wont buy it. I'm sorry. Maybe later. It's not that I dont believe in you but this just wont work. People are not ready to know in all your glory. They'd prefer their own version of you-one that fits into their lives, one that is convenient enough for them to beleive in."
In a the last of these situations, another person tired from a hard day at work has just come home. Being a man of faith, he bows down his head and says a small prayer to God thanking him for the wonderful day at work and then he turns the TV on to watch his favourite show on MIracle Network. The door bell rings and he open it up. He is taken aback by the figure of God at his door. After a few moments he recovers and goes on his knees. Oh what a moment this is- God at his door!!! God calls him by the name and says "Son, I have something that needs doing. I want you to do it for me" holding out in his hand a old parchment. He says "My Lord, an honour it is. Willingly I will follow." He picks up his coat and God signals for him to follow. They both start walking- God in front, him behind God. Darkness is all that he can see but God he is following and thats all that matters.
After a while he stops and asks, "God, What will we do for dinner? It is late. I will soon be hungry and I havent even brought money to eat out." God stops and he almost bumps into God. God turns around and says "Dont worry my son." A while later after walking down a little more, He asks God, " God, what will I do for work tomorrow?. I cant take leave without a atleast a days notice. How will I do what you ask of me?" God stops and he almost misses bumping into God. God turns around and says "Dont worry my son. Just do it. I will handle everything else. You just do what I tell you to."
"God will people accept what you ask of me?"
"God will I face opposition ?"
"God, what if I cannot do it?"
"God, what if I find my self unable"?
God, what if, what if, what if...
Many steps more and many questions later, the questions keep on coming. But the answers remain the same-"Dont worry my son. Just do it" with God getting angrier with each time. God tells himself, "For heavens sake, just do it man. What is wrong with you? Dont you understand that I have it under control? Why dont you just trust me? Do you not have faith in me? Dont you understand that I have it all under control? Do you think that you will be unsuccessful under my guidance? Do you fear that you will fail under my guidance? Why wont just trust me and do as i tell you to?"