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Hero worship and idolatry

Hero worship is, unfortunately, a common problem among Christians today. AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMyAAAAJDA1ZTRkMmRmLWQ3OTAtNDliYS04MDQ4LTg4ZDZmNzkwNjU1YwWe have our favourite preachers, evangelists, ministers and servants of God, authors and pastors. We may even have certain political leaders as our heroes. And we end up worshipping these heroes, knowingly or unknowingly.

There were few times when I saw some theology posted online and had the temerity to point out certain Biblical verses which directly contradict the said theology. And then the wolves would come out – how dare you question our pastor/preacher/minister of God? Do you have his anointing? No one knows who you are, but our pastor/preacher/minister has so many followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc,.

But no one would say whether what I wrote is correct or not, based on the Bible. That’s never the problem. How dare you question our ….?

Especially in Pentecostal churches, the hero worship is so easily visible to human eyes, except those who are into it. The church attendance would drop if certain pastor is not preaching; the church will be full when a certain person leads the worship.

There are some Christians who believe that God our Father do not listen to our prayers, but if such a minister of God prays, then there will be an immediate answer to those prayers. So when they need prayers, they will write to those ministers of God or call them, so that they can get an instant answer from God through the “direct line”.

Is it wrong to have someone else pray for us? Of course not. Is it wrong that some men of God are asked to intercede on our behalf. No, it is not. But to depend on them, to follow them blindly, is wrong and it will lead to spiritual idolatry and spiritual adultery.

In Exodus chapter 32, we see the idolatry of Israelites. But what we don’t read between the lines is most revealing.

  • That morning, they collected manna – which was provided by our Lord God.
  • That day, they drank water that came from the roc – again the provision was from our God.
  • During the entire day, when they were busy preparing the idols, they were under the shadow of the pillar of cloud – provided by God.
  • During that night, when they were worshipping the idols and celebrating, they were received light by the pillar of fire – provided by God.
  • If all these were not enough to remind them of the presence of God among them, they were at the base of Mount Sinai and the peak was covered with clouds, symbolizing the glory and presence of the LORD God.
  • There were thunders and lightning that would have reminded them the awesome power of our God.

Imagine this. After eating the manna and drinking the water provided by the Lord our God, they proceeded to create and worship an idol under the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that the Lord had given them in His mercy. HIS awesome power and magnificent glory were visible whenever they looked up. Yet they went ahead and created the idols. Why? Because they were worried about their hero, Moses.

Exodus 21:1 says: Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

Since they could not see their hero and did not know what happened to them, they decided to choose another leader… no, wait, no, they did not do that. That would have been the right thing to do. Instead, when they thought they lost Moses, they replaced him with idols. Hero worship had led them to idolatry. And there were so many things that would have reminded them of the presence of the Lord among them, the LORD God Who actually brought them out of the land of Egypt. But when people have heroes, true and living God cannot be seen – only idols can be seen.

So, who is your focus? Are you looking only Jesus, Him crucified or your preacher? Are you focussing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, or some Christian author whose books have revived your faith? Let us focus our eyes only on Jesus and Jesus Christ alone. Amen.

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Your children

God only knows who His elect are. If our sons and daughters are numbered among them they will be saved. Not one of God’s chosen ones will perish. Christ will have those whom He has redeemed. In God’s time, He will call His own from death to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. If some of our children are not chosen of God, they will not be saved. They will not believe. And those who will not believe deserve to perish.

But it is our responsibility to do what we can to bring our families into the family of God. I offer these words of instruction to you who believe, to you who are interested in the immortal souls of your sons and daughters.

1. If you want your family to be saved, see to it that you worship God with your family. If you do not see to it that your children hear the gospel, it is because you do not care for their souls. If you neglected to feed your children, it would be reasonable to assume that you cared nothing for their bodies. And if you do not provide them with the gospel of Christ, both by private instruction and by bringing them to hear the Word preached, it is obvious that you do not care for their souls. You can do nothing that is more positively harmful to your family than to rob them of the ministry of the Word.

2. If you care for the souls of your children you will exercise loving discipline in your home. Eli was a believer. He showed his wicked sons the way of faith and life in Christ. He taught them the gospel. He taught them right from wrong. And he prayed for them. But he was a miserable failure as a father, because he exercised no discipline over them. ‘He restrained them not!’ God told him plainly that the cause of his sons’ death was his lack of’ discipline as a father.

3. If you want your children to follow Christ, let them see that you follow Christ. By all means see to it that your sons and daughters regularly attend the ministry of the gospel. See to it that you pray for them and discipline them. But if your religion is all lip service, they will soon detect your hypocrisy. Set before them an example of love for, faith in and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

– From “Grace for Today” by Don Fortner

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All that night

“All that night” the Lord was working,
Working in the tempest blast,
Working with the swelling current,
Flooding, flowing, free and fast.

“All that night” God’s children waited–
Hearts, perhaps in agony
With the enemy behind them,
And, in front, the cruel sea.

“All that night” seemed blacker darkness
Than they ever saw before,
Though the light of God’s own presence
Near them was, and sheltered o’er.

“All that night” that weary vigil
Passed; the day at last did break,
And they saw that God was working
“All that night” a path to make.

“All that night,” O child of sorrow,
Canst thou not thy heartbreak stay?
Know thy God in darkest midnight
Works, as well as in the day.

All that night

The Ragi Flour Cake Mentality

Today we were eating a black cake, which was delicious. As we were making slices, one of the believers was there, so we gave her a slice too. She really enjoyed it and quite innocently, she asked us: “Is this cake made of Ragi flour?”

Cake

We ended up laughing so hard, she was quite embarrassed. Then I explained to her, that when she does not know what something is, she should just ask what it is, instead of trying to associate with something she knows. I don’t know if she understood what I meant.

But it made me thinking. She is quite uneducated and all she knew was the pulses that are typical Indian. So, when she ate something that looked black, she assumed it to be made of Ragi flour. While it was funny, I also realized something.

I am reading the Book of Job now and as I am reading, I saw many verses there, which have arguments defending God Almighty. And, I had used the same kind of arguments in the past to defend God, and in one case, I had used literally the same words. But the sad thing is all those verses were used by the friends of Job, who ended up accusing him of being wicked and then being reprimanded by our Lord.

By the grace of God, I don’t use such arguments anymore. But I realized that I too had a Ragi-flour-cake mentality. I did not know how great our Lord is; I had not understood how vast His love is for us; and, I had no inkling of what grace really meant. Whatever I knew little, whatever I had known from my little experiences, I had tried to defend the Lord. And now, I am ashamed how shallow I had been.

Lord, forgive me for all those instances where I tried to defend You with my “ragi-flour-mentality.” Instead of letting Your Son and His great sacrifice at Calvary take the centre stage, I let my little understanding and knowledge to explain Your ways. I deeply regret those who were hurt by me. May Jesus, Him crucified, be all in all in my conversations. May Your grace and mercy guide me in all my conversations. May Your Name alone be magnified. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Whose fault is it?

On November 8th, 2016, we had a praise and worship service at our church. After finishing it, as we entered our home, there was a phone call from one of believers, asking us to check the breaking news of the day. On turning TV, we found that the prime minister of India had made the leading currencies of the Indian economy were invalid from midnight. While many people thought that it was a bold move, I was convinced in my spirit that it was a foolish move which would make many innocent people suffer.

But there are times where we know we are right, but wish we are not. The innocent people are not just suffering, there are many people who died; some because they lost all hopes and committed suicide and others, because they suffered cardiac arrest.

Recently, there was a news about a farmer whose crops were hit hard by drought and he needed some money to save the crops. He went to the bank to mortgage some family jewels, but the bank told him that they did not have enough currency to give him as there is a shortage of the new currency. They asked him to come the next day and, with hope, the farmer came to the bank next day. But the situation had not changed, the bank still did not have any currency notes to give him. He suffered a massive cardiac arrest and died right there inside the bank. His family is struggling now, not knowing what to do.whose-fault

On Wednesday, we were praying in our church and the prayer leader mentioned this incident and asked us: whose fault is it? Some believers said, it was the prime minister’s and others said, it was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s fault. As I started to pray for all those innocent people, suddenly the Spirit of God moved my heart and asked me the same question: whose fault is it? When I tried to blame the prime minister and the RBI, the Holy Spirit kept asking me that question again and again… till I was broken and realized that it was my fault.

Yes, it was my fault. It is my fault.

I am a Christian. I have a duty to pray for my country. I have a duty to pray for my fellow citizens. I may not agree with what they are doing; I may dislike the rulers of the country. But I am a Christian. Above everything else, I have tasted the love of God for the fallen mankind.

Though I knew that this demonetization move would bring sufferings to innocent people, I failed to pray for them. I failed to bend my knees, bow down before the Almighty God to seek His intervention. I failed to humble myself before the Lord Jesus Christ and with humility, seek His mercy towards my country. Yes, it is my fault.

Oh Lord our Father in heaven, please forgive me for this sin. Through Your Son Jesus Christ, I seek Your forgiveness for failing to do my duty. Please wash away this guilty conscience and may Your Spirit enable me to come into Your holy presence, to plead for those who are suffering. In Jesus’s Name, I ask. Amen.

My goal

“My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;
’tis His to lead me there, not mine, but His
”At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!”

“So faith bounds forward to its goal in God,
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there;
”Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard
Till God hath full fulfilled my deepest prayer.

“No matter if the way be sometimes dark,
No matter though the cost be ofttimes great,
He knoweth how I best shall reach the mark,
The way that leads to Him must needs be straight.

“One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay;
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord;
My God my glory here, from day to day,
And in the glory there my Great Reward.”

Jesus

Happy Thanksgiving

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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In all circumstances! This comes as a surprise when one considers the vicissitudes of human life. Sickness and health, poverty and wealth, joy and sorrow–are all ingredients of the cup placed to human lips–so all must come within the scope of thanksgiving. Personally for me, this year so far has been my struggle with my health. From March till September, I spent most of time in sickness. Yet, I am thankful to God for everything. Why be thankful for everything? Because God causes everything to work together for good to those who love Him. And whatever our life has changed, if we love God, then trust that the Almighty God has a plan for our good. And, in faith, let us praise and give Him thanks.

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Lessons from ICU. 12. Love bears all things

In the previous blog, I wrote about how my face was distorted and how everyone who saw my face, averted their eyes right away because of how I looked. But there was one exception to that. Though this happened before I was admitted to the ICU, it was there I had a chance to meditate on that exception; hence it is one of the lessons I learned in ICU.

My three-year old niece, Irene Charlotte, was the exception. 100_5746She is very close to me and my wife. Before becoming sick, I used to spend lots of time with her, carrying on my shoulders and playing with her. When I became ill suddenly, I was completely bed-ridden as the swellings in my legs were very painful. And it bothered the kid. But she would visit me every single day, massage my legs for a second or two, then close her eyes, mumble something and would say to me, “Uncle, you will be fine soon. I have prayed and Jesus will heal you. Once you are healed, you should carry me again in your shoulders. Okay.”

Since we did not know the bitterness of the cup that the Lord had allowed in our life, we would just laugh whenever she did this. But soon, my face started ballooning. In few days, my face shape changed and at times, even I could not identify myself. One of my eyes was so swollen, you could not see my right eye at all. Even the left eye was barely open. It was a very unpleasant sight, that scared even the adults. If that was not enough, my body started bulging and I started to look like a huge water barrel.Within 10 days, my size went from M/L to XXL and my hands were so huge and heavy, it was difficult for a young man to lift one of my hands. Even the fingers were so large, I could not even type anything on the laptop. I looked really horrible.

Yet, Irene would come every morning and evening; instead of being scared of me, she would give kiss my cheeks, compel me to open my closed eye, then massage my legs, kiss my feet, mumble a prayer and then reminding me that once I am healed, I must carry on my shoulders. Every day. Twice. She did that, without showing any fear or disgust in her face. Of course, recently when she saw one of the photos taken during that time, she freaked out. But during those difficult times, she was the only comfort we all had. When we asked her if she was not scared, she would smile and say, “This is my uncle. I love him. He is sick today, but soon will be healed. Then he will carry me on his shoulders. And, of course, I am not afraid of my uncle.”

Even on July 8th, the day I was taken to the emergency ward, where physicians and nurses working there got scared by how I looked, Irene came in the morning and gave me the kisses, massage, prayer and the reminder that I should carry her once I am healed.

Now, I wrote in the previous blog, how many people who love me so much, were unable to look into my eyes, and were crying. While they did that because they love me, what I received from them was pity. But with Irene, it was unadulterated love. When I thought about those tears, it always put me down. However, when I thought about what Irene did, it always brought a smile unto my face, warmth into my soul and a sliver of hope to my broken spirit. And it also reminded me of the Bible verse: Love bears all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7) I thank the Lord for giving us this little blessing and may the LORD bless her for all the love and joy she brought into our lives during this difficult time.

Now when I meditate on the love of God, shown to a sinner like me, I remember this unadulterated love shown to me during the toughest time of my life. Our sins against the Most Holy God are so repulsive; and the effects of those sins on our soul and spirit are so hideous. And even when we repent, when we feel bad for our sins, others look at our pathetic state and feel pity for us; they avert their eyes, because they realize how vile our sins have been; and they are unable to stomach the stench that arises from the effects of our sins. While this pity looks good, it does not help me much. For it may give me comfort at that time, but it does not give hope to my heart.

Then there is God. HE does not show pity to me; instead He showers His love on me. No matter how hideous I am, how disgusting my countenance is, He embraces me, He kisses me and He tells the world, “This is My son; he was dead, but now he is alive; he was sick, but My Son and his Brother Jesus Christ has healed him; now he will carry this Gospel around the world.” God does not get tired of saying this again and again. And this love gives me hope. This amazing love gives me comfort. This unfathomable love makes me smile.

Considering how holy our God is, it becomes all the more confounding that He loves a vile sinner like me. And to show the love by hugging me, kissing me, when I am so appalling in my soul, in my spirit and in my body… yes, love bears all things. And thank You, Father, for Your wonderful love; thank You Jesus, for Your grace; thank You Holy Spirit, for Your guidance. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

lovebears

Thank You for Your grace, Lord

For last month or so, my body was getting tired easily and I just thought it was because I was under stress or not eating properly and so on. But then, for last 10 days or so, my body has taken such a beating from an ailment, for the first time in so many years, I did not attend the Sunday service. The Sunday service takes place just in the second floor of our home and I could not even go from the first floor to second floor; so, you can understand how severely I was afflicted.

Many people, who have more pressing problems in their lives, forgot everything, and started praying for me with tears, and in all these, I was a silent spectator. I just could not believe what was happening to my body and to see my wife undergoing so much pain yet again because of me, it was not easy to bear. As one night, I was praying for deliverance, the Spirit of God reminded me of this verse.

But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face! – Job 2:5.

Over the years, I have lost so much. There are times when depression sets in and I end up questioning the Lord. But over all, I have always realized that our Saviour has a great plan for me, and hence taken all the losses with thanksgiving. But this time, the pain in my body was so severe and incessant, it was difficult for me to even pray.

Job 2.5

But once the Holy Spirit showed me this verse, I sought the grace of our Lord. It is easy to talk about the Biblical heroes and say, that we must follow them. But in real life, there is a reason why only there is one Abraham, one Moses, one Job, one David and one Daniel. As I was not sure to what extent, I would be tested, I sought the grace and strength of our most loving God.

For the last few days, the pain became very intense that even trying to sleep had become a struggle. And the changes in my bones and flesh had become very visible, that I could not hide my struggle from others. In between, I even lost hope for my future, and thought, “Probably, this is it!” Yeah, I was ready to accept death itself, if it was God’s will. Of course, whenever I had to look at my wife, it broke my heart, for I had not given her any peace or happiness in my life; and then my loving family, my loving daughters. However, with lots of prayer, I was ready to yield my spirit to the Father of all spirits. But in His mercies, the LORD promised me that He has sent His Word to heal me, and this morning, when I woke up, I saw most of my body was back to normal and the pain has gone away. Still there are some wear and tear, but that excruciating pain has gone.

As I got up from my bed, I realized that the Lord has taught me yet another lesson in my life. I had never given respect to those who suffer in their bodies. Inner turmoil, depressions, struggles in their minds, yes, I could sympathize with them, for I had suffered all those. But when someone tells me that their head ache is too much to bear, my heart would look at them condescendingly – “Oh, come on! There are more painful things than your head ache!” But now, the Lord has made me realize that there is a threshold for everything. Even a small pain that lasts longer could break anyone. And when someone tells me how much they had also suffered due to some ailments, suddenly my heart feels for them. Oh, how adamant I have been, that God has to allow such a severe affliction for me to learn this seemingly basic, simple truth! Thank You, Lord, for this lesson and thank You for Your patience with me all these years.

feeling the pain

And more than everything, I am so grateful that the Lord sustained me through this suffering, by His grace. That the Lord did not let me sin with my heart or my lips. Yes, I had not suffered even a percentage of what the great man of God, Job, had suffered. But to me, the least of all God’s children, this is a huge thing. And I praise the Lord for His enduring grace.

As I am regaining my health again, I am so happy that Jesus Christ helped me to defeat the devil, who said that I would curse the Lord, only if he was able to touch my bones and flesh. It is Your grace alone, Lord, Your grace alone, for I know it was not possible for me. Thank You, Jesus.

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.

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What more?

As I was struggling with sin, it was very difficult for me to come into the presence of the LORD to seek His guidance. I was pulled in all the directions. Though many times I had dedicated my whole self – my soul, my spirit, my body and my mind – to God, I fell back into sin.

Of course, I did have my own excuses for falling into sin. “I am falling into sin, because my flesh is used to that. Once my flesh is crucified with Christ, sin shall have no dominion over me.” Except, I had crucified my flesh with Christ innumerable times.

In between, I had this trouble: am I waging a lonely battle that I am certain to lose? Will I lose my redemption? As I was struggling with these thoughts, I came across this Christian classic: “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” by John Bunyan.https://i0.wp.com/www.allyoucanbooks.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/book_cover_medium/ebook-cover/Grace-Abounding-to-the-Chief-of-Sinners-by-John-Bunyan.jpg (If you want a free copy of this book, click on the book cover on the left or here.)

I was surprised to find that one of the great Christian saints had to struggle so much with sin and that I am not alone in this struggle. Most importantly, it is not a battle I am meant to lose.

Meanwhile, I was getting warnings from my preachers and every one who knew me and who knew my struggle with sin. Shockingly, the more warning I received, the hardened became my heart. That scared me a lot. Why am I not scared of the punishment I was going to get? Why is my heart so hardened?

As the internal struggle went on and on, the less time I spent on reading the Bible. But one day, I finally took the Bible and started reading. And I was so sure that the LORD is going to speak to me through His Word and reprimand me for my stubbornness.

God did speak to me through His Word, but surely not in the way I was expecting. HE spoke to me through the first part of Isaiah 5:4.

What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? (MKJV)

In those words, I didn’t hear the commanding and booming voice of our LORD. But I heard the plaintive voice of Jesus as He cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”… “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

I heard Jesus asking in a plaintive voice, “What more could I do for you?”

I didn’t sense any rebuke in that voice… instead I saw the grace that was in His eyes when He looked on Peter after he denied Christ thrice (Luke 22:61).

And that love and mercy, the grace and the pain in that voice, broke my heart. With no second thoughts, I left that sin then and there and moved on.

For, what more could Jesus do for me? HE endured so much suffering for me. HE died for me. HE gave His life for me. HE even shed His last drop of blood for me. And, HE is still interceding for me. What more could Jesus do for me?

And whenever temptation comes across my way, my soul asks only one question: what more could Jesus do for me?

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