Saturday, December 7, 2013

What is a 'Christian' Song? What is a 'Christian' Band

From ctk Blog
Lead singer Jon Foreman was asked if Switchfoot is a “Christian” band. His response is worth pondering.

Switchfoot is going secular. Sort of.
Switchfoot is going secular. Sort of.

“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.

The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.

Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.

None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.

I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.

We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.”


Friday, December 6, 2013

Some more wisdom on Money and Giving from JD Greear

JD Greear has written another great article on Money: 3 Critical Truths about Our Money

1. Money problems usually come from money idolatry
2. Only an experience with the gospel changes our heart’s attitude toward money
3. People who ask, “How much do I have to give?” don’t get it

I am often asked how much Christians should give. Some who ask this are looking for wisdom, but many are looking for an out. They want to know how much is enough to get God off their backs, to fulfill their duty. And that attitude is miles away from the gospel.

Gospel giving is about love, not law. It’s not about percentages, but about a person. Zacchaeus throws out some numbers, but not because Jesus gives him the benchmark first. He does it out of sheer joy, as a love offering to God.

A lot of people who ask, “How much do I have to give?” labor under the delusion that God needs their money. In their minds, God is like the government, endlessly low on funds and constantly seeking more funding. But God doesn’t need our cash.

That’s why 2 Corinthians 9:7 says that God loves a cheerful giver. If God had needs, he wouldn’t care why you gave; he would only care that you gave. I’ve never gotten a letter from the IRS saying, “Yes, you paid the legal amount, but we sense that it wasn’t joyful giving. We’re concerned about your motives.” No, the IRS needs money, so that’s their bottom line.

But (thankfully) God isn’t like the IRS. God loves cheerful giving because gospel giving is primarily about worship and joy, not meeting needs. I have heard it said that God measures our generosity not by the size of our gifts, but by the size of our sacrifice, because sacrifice expresses the affections of our heart to God.

And if we find ourselves growing stingy and fearful once again, the answer is not to try harder. The answer is to look back at the cross, where God was lavishly generous with us. Because those people who truly experience the gospel become like the gospel—overflowing with grace.

Read the whole article


Possibly Related Posts from the Past

1. Some thoughts on Giving (and the Tithe)
2. God's way of making us a part of His Kingdom
3. Sacrificial Giving

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan side by side

It's quite uncanny to see the similarities between the two greats when their moves on court are placed side by side...


Angels We Have Heard On High

The PianoGuys produce another masterpiece!

Possibly Related Posts from the Past

1. "What makes you Beautiful"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Famous Splits

Check out these videos from the inimitable 22Words

Exhibit 1: Jean-Claude Van Damme performs a famous split between two Volvo trucks in an advertisement for its dynamic steering

Exhibit 2: Turns out Ajay Devgan had done something very similar in his Bollywood debut Phool Aur Kaante many years ago....

I'm feeling sick just thinking about this!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ten Times It's Wise to Hold Your Tongue

This is something we all really need to practise MUCH more.

Hold Your Tongue!!

A nice article from Lina Abujamra at TrueWoman

1. When you have no idea what to say
Proverbs 17:28: "Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent."

2. When you're wrongly accused
1 Peter 2:23: "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return."

Isaiah 53:7: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth."

3. When you're mad
Proverbs 25:28: "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control."

4. When you're confused about life
Lamentations 3:25–28: "The Lord is good for those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord . . . Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth to the dust—there may yet be hope."

5. When you wouldn't want someone else to find out you said it
Luke 12:3: "Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops."

6. When you don't really mean it
Proverbs 3:28: "Do not say to your neighbor 'Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it,' when you have it with you."

7. When you can't stop yearning for the good old days
Ecclesiastes 7:10: "Say not, why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this."

8. When you have a lot to do and you don't like it
Philippians 2:14: "Do all things without grumbling or complaining."

9. When the timing is wrong
Proverbs 25:11: "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver."

10. When you don't have anything to say that gives grace

Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear it."


I think a lot of this is true for online 'talk' as well. It is so easy to write stuff on Facebook and blogs when it would be far wiser to hold our tongue and just not say anything at all.

Possibly Related Posts from the Past

1. New Comment Policy

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why We Should Legalize Murder for Hire

This superbly written post by Betsy Childs makes perfect sense.

I'll be the first to admit it; hit men are shady. But they are shady because they are doing work that no one else wants to do, work that is, in fact, illegal. By labeling contract killing a "crime," we have obscured the fact that hit men provide a valuable service to society.

Bourne SightMany women find themselves trapped in unwanted marriages. Matrimony severely curtails a woman's freedom, and husbands can be unreasonably demanding. A woman in such a situation is vulnerable. She sees only one way out, and so she makes the difficult decision to kill her husband.

But the inconvenient truth is that a woman hiring a hit on her husband will likely have to pay tens of thousands of dollars, with no guarantee that the kill will actually take place. Legalizing the transaction would remove uncertainty. Hired guns could be vetted, trained, and held to professional standards of safety. No one wants a hit to go bad. Removing the threat of prosecution would drastically lower the cost of contract killings. Legalizing murder for hire would bring a sordid industry into the light.

Read the rest.....

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Open reply to M: Why abortion cannot be a matter of personal choice

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Happiest part of my Day...........

Is returning home from work!

I am usually overwhelmed by the affectionate way in which my wife and children welcome me.

Quite similar to what these elephants display!

I hope as the kids grow up and become teens, they will not begin responding as this 'teen-age' elephant does!

(HT: 22Words)

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Ridiculous Grace of Adoption

For me, being adopted is a picture of God's total sovereign control over all of the specific details he lovingly orchestrates in our lives. Over time, I have come to recognize a theme in my life of what I call ridiculous grace.

I'm talking about the times God intervenes in our lives in such flagrant, extreme ways. He interrupts the logical order of things, and turns everything upside down in the best way possible. He took me from being an unplanned pregnancy, to being a much-wanted "chosen child."

And there's the gospel—things were going along one way, but God intervened, and changed everything, because he's God and he's good and sovereign.

When God adopts us into his family, it's a picture of what Christ has done to come and save us and bring us to the Father. And when Christ, our elder brother, presents us to his Father he says, "Isn't she pretty, doesn't she look just like me?" The Father loves and accepts us because of what Christ has done on our behalf.

(From: The Ridiculous Grace of Adoption)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What an appetite!

At breakfast this morning, 5 year old Tammy looked on with incredulous concern at the number of bread slices I was planning to eat.

"You are terribly hungry, isn't it?", she asked.

Namrata, my 4 year old daughter, stepped in to protect her dad from this slur on his character.

"My Dada's fat," she said, by way of explanation.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"A Calvinist at the Pearly Gates"

A Calvinist arrives at St. Peter’s gates and sees that there are two queues going in. One is marked “predestined,” and the other is marked “free will.” Being the card-carrying Calvinist that he is, he strolls on over to the predestined queue. After several moments an angel asks him, “Why are you in this line?” He replies, “Because I chose it.” The angel looks surprised, “Well, if you ‘chose’ it, then you should be in the free will line.” So our Calvinist, now slightly miffed, obediently wanders over to the free will line. Again, after a few minutes, another angel asks him, “Why are you in this line?” He sullenly replies, “Someone made me come here.”

From Michael Bird's book: Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction

(HT:Trevin Wax)

Possibly Related Posts from the past

1. Men who go so high in doctrine.....
2. Three random but possibly related quotes I have read together in the past week.....

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How well should we live?

Do click over to read John Piper's interview, in which he discusses why he chose to live like an 'ordinary pastor' even though he was earning so much more in book royalties and speaking fees.
John Piper
"When I began my ministry as pastor at Bethlehem, it had never entered my mind that I would produce a lot of income by writing. I received modest honorariums of one or two hundred dollars for weddings and funerals. I accepted these with thanks. I did believe suspect that, if I was faithful, income would rise, and sooner or later I would make more than I needed. Therefore, I believed from the beginning that plans should be in place to put a governor on laying up treasures on earth. Otherwise, little by little I might assume that my wants were my needs, and the expenses would expand, as they always do, to fill the income. So Noël and I put in place a "graduated tithe" from the beginning. That is, we tried to give a greater percentage with each salary increase, not just a greater amount.

With the successful sales of Desiring God starting in 1987, I saw that there could be substantial income from writing and speaking. I resolved that I should not keep this money for myself but channel it to ministry. I never doubted that the Lord would provide us with a salary that would be sufficient for our family. So I saw no reason to keep the money that came in from the books and speaking. These royalties and honorariums were being earned while I was pastor of Bethlehem, and so it seemed the church should benefit from them, not me privately. 
At first, I thought I could do this simply by channeling the royalties to the church, but realized soon that this had tax implications. Since these royalties were technically in my control as the copyright holder, giving all of them to the church made me liable for income taxes. So we created a foundation. The Desiring God Foundation now owns all the copyrights of my books and intellectual property, and receives and distributes all the income. I have no access to the money at all. I do sit on the board of the foundation with my wife and five others. This board safeguards the aims of the foundation, and makes the decisions to which ministries the income should be given. It is a thrilling ministry. 
In addition, we made the decision that all honoraria would go to the ministries we represent, not ourselves. That was usually the church while I was pastor, and now is Desiring God. While I was a pastor at Bethlehem, I never received an income from Desiring God. So for the last 25 years or so, we have lived on one stream of income. That is still the case, as I am now paid by Desiring God. I have never been in any serious need. None of this has felt like a sacrifice. I know myself incredibly rich by the standards of the world. Beyond all doubt, it is more blessed to give than to receive and keep."

In some contrast, do read these two stories of Christian leaders who have landed in trouble recently over their plans to build new houses.

Steve Furtick
One of them, Steve Furtick, says he made the money from the sales of his books, and also gave a lot of money to his growing church. He could still afford to build a 1.6million dollar house, with a total square footage reported at 16,000 feet (8,400 of it heated), and spread out over 19acres.

Presumably, he had made the money honestly, was entitled to being able to build this house, but was still in trouble because 1. he was not being very open about how much salary he was drawing from the church, and 2. many people felt that he was not right in keeping so much money for himself.

Read about him here, and about his defence to his church and their support of him here.

 Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst: "The Bishop of Bling"

The second story is of a Catholic bishop (nicknamed 'The Bishop of Bling') who has been suspended after he spent 31 million Euros renovating his house in Germany.

Some writers contrasted him with Pope Francis (who took his name after Francis of Assisi)

"It is hard to imagine a greater contrast between the alleged luxurious living habits of the German bishop and the ascetic style of the Argentinian pontiff, who, from his first hours in office, has made clear his desire for "a poor church … for the poor". Shunning the large and opulent apostolic palace, the pontiff has chosen instead to live in the simple surrounds of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a Vatican guesthouse. He often travels in used cars and has urged priests to do the same, telling them: "If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world."

So, here's the question:

Why is it particularly wrong for a Pastor to earn well, save well, and live well ? Why do we expect that they should live lives of poverty, (or, at least, they should not live more extravagantly than we do!)

What about the, say, Christian doctor, or IT professional, or teacher, or banker or lawyer?

Is what is bad for the pastor good for the rest of us?

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Sacrificial Giving
2. Some thoughts on Giving (and the Tithe)
3. God's way of making us a part of His Kingdom

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Comment Policy

Over the last few days, this site has been receiving a number of comments. Yesterday, I had to take the unusual step of deleting a number of them.

When this blog was resurrected in July, 2012, I made the decision to permit comments, including anonymous ones. (Read what I wrote at that time)

I think it has unfortunately become necessary to frame a new policy for comments on this blog. I am borrowing from the guidelines on a number of other Christian blogs I follow. So here goes:
New Comment Policy

Comment Policy on the Countertrend Blog

It has now become easy to comment on this blog. Anybody can comment. For the moment, I have continued to permit anonymous comments, and the use of pseudonyms. I have removed the 'Word verification' step that used to be required. It is easier, in a way, to make a comment on this blog than ever before.

Commenting being so easy, it is easy to get a comment published that you might regret having said later.

May I therefore suggest the following guidelines that I try to follow myself:

1. I recommend that you use your own name when commenting, especially because I feel that when we take ownership and responsibility for what we post, it helps to keep discussions civil and constructive.

2. I suggest comment-ers follow the Golden Rule for commenting on the Internet: Never publish something on the Internet that you would not ever say to the author of the blogpost face-to-face.

3. Feel free to disagree with me, and to question what I am writing. Those who know me well, know that I relish a great debate and discussion.

Do so, however, in a respectful manner as you would if we were to talk face-to-face. If you want to criticize, do so in a constructive manner, suggesting how things may be said better.

4. I will, however, continue to reserve my right (as administrator of this blog) to delete or moderate some posts. I will continue to delete comments that are snide, rude, uncivil and boorish. The same goes for off-the-topic rants and trolling. I will continue to delete spam and other offensive links.

I would like this blog to be a place where we might be able to discuss issues in a reasonable and cool-headed manner, without the heat and discourteous incivility that seems to mark so much of our public dialogue these days.

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:6)

Wise Words from Dr Seuss

This site has a collection of 37 extraordinarily-good quotes from the incomparable Dr Seuss.

Here are my Favourite Eight:

(HT: 22Words)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Change My Heart, Oh God!

O Lord, give me I pray:

  • a remembering heart for the things that have happened
  • an attentive heart to what I have heard
  • a forgiving heart for what has hurt
  • a grateful heart for what has blessed
  • an open heart to all that may come
  • a trusting heart to go forth with You
  • a loving heart for You and all Your creation
  • a longing heart for the reconciliation of all things
  • a willing heart to say “Yes” to what You will.

- Leighton Ford

(Quoted by Trevin Wax)

Possibly Related Posts from the Past

1. Moving in step with God

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Arun Gautham, one of our Anesthesia PG's, writes (very well) about his unexpected (and unusual) decision to work for a while in ASHA Kiran Hospital, in Lamtaput, and how, he feels, he has gained much as a result.

Possibly Related posts from the past

1. What is a Mission Hospital?

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Power of the Gospel

"The power of the gospel comes in two movements. It first says, 'I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe,' but then quickly follows with, 'I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope.'"

- Tim Keller

quoted by Josh Harris

Possibly Related Posts from the Past

1. So Flawed yet So Loved!
2. Everything you are in the world is of no value.....

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wed-lease: A new definition

Via: Gene Veith

"Attorney Paul Rampell, writing in the Washington Post, says that we need to recognize that marriages, like other legal partnerships, often do not last a lifetime. So he proposes that marital contracts be developed along the line of leases. That is, a marriage would be negotiated for a particular period of time, with an option for renewal."

"Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit."

What an idea!

Probably related posts from the past:
1. A letter to a young (imaginary) Christian couple, Raja and Rani, who are planning to get married soon.

"Pathological Generosity?"

Here is the curious story of a man in Brazil, who had a stroke, and then started giving his money away, along with food and drink to street children. Scientists have concluded he is suffering from "Pathological Generosity"

The man himself explained his behaviour by reportedly saying that he had worked enough and that it was time to 'enjoy life which is too short.' He apparently told doctors he was aware of changes in his behavior and claimed he 'saw death from close up' and wanted to 'be in high spirits' from then onwards.

I read this story on Gene Veith's blog, where one insightful commenter concluded:
"Live like Christ commands and the world will assume you have brain damage."

I wish more of us would live "Countertrend"!

Possibly related posts from the past:
1. God's way of making us a part of His Kingdom
2. Inasmuch as you have not done it to the least of these my brothers.......
3. What is a Mission Hospital?
4. Sacrificial Giving
5. Tithing and Giving
6. Giving with a difference

Friday, October 18, 2013

Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction!

Gold! Gold! Gold!

A 'seer' has had a dream!

The Archaeological Survey of India is today beginning to dig for gold at the site where he dreams they will be able to find 1000 tonnes of gold.

The seer's disciples have staked their pride on this issue, and offered to go to jail if gold is not found.

Read about it....

And now, he has had another dream!

Hold your breath, everyone......

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This is one incredible person......

16 year old Malala Yousafzai talks about how she prepared for the Taliban attempt to kill her.

"I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, 'If he comes, what would you do Malala?' then I would reply to myself, 'Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.' But then I said, 'If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.' Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that 'I even want education for your children as well.' And I will tell him, 'That's what I want to tell you, now do what you want.'"

Read more

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Moving in step with God

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God,
Grant us the desire to do only what pleases You,
and the strength to do only what You command.

Cleanse our souls,
enlighten our minds,
and inflame our hearts with Your Holy Spirit,
that we may follow in the footsteps of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

- Francis of Assisi

(HT: Trevin Wax)

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Flight of the Bumble Bee

Yuja Wang plays "Flight of the Bumble Bee" on the piano

This is really incredible!


Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Vivaldi like you've never heard before

Men who go so high in doctrine.....

Listen to what Charles Spurgeon had to say about some people who could not find anything good to say about John Wesley, because, as Calvinists, they could not agree with his position as an Arminian.

John Wesley (via)
Charles Spurgeon (via)


"......Men who go so high in doctrine, and withal add so much bitterness and uncharitableness to it, that they cannot imagine that a man can fear God at all unless he believes precisely as they do."

From his lecture, “The Two Wesleys” (delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Dec. 6, 1861)

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Sounds familiar?!

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Three random but possibly related quotes I have read together in the past week.....
2. Thank God we finally got our doctrine right!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some thoughts on Giving (and the Tithe)

Tithing or Giving (via)
While growing up in Bangalore, it was my privilege to be a part of a church for 25 years that never (even once) took an offering! Yes, you read that right!

This church had two offering boxes at the back of the meeting hall. Members were free to put money into the box anonymously whenever they wanted. The boxes had verses printed on them. One box said, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7), and the other box said, "First be reconciled to your brother."(Matt 5:24). This highlighted a part of the church's teaching on giving to the church:

Offering Box

1. Giving was to be voluntary, and cheerful rather than forced and out of a sense of compulsion, and
2. It was far more important to have a good conscience and obey God, than try and pacify one's conscience through giving to the church.

There were a number of other teachings they emphasized regarding the use of money. They taught that all our money (not just 10%) belongs to God, and we are only stewards of what we own, and are expected to use all that we have for God's glory and for the extension of God's kingdom. They taught that one of the signs of true disciples was that they chose to serve God rather than mammon. They taught that it was better not to give to the church than to give grudgingly or with a sense of compulsion. And they taught that we could trust God to meet all our needs, and to enable us to work for Him.

There may have been many things wrong about this church, but perhaps this was one thing they got right!

Over the years, I watched God provide. The church leadership never asked for money from the pulpit, but they always had enough. Meeting halls were constructed in villages all over south India, the church had enough resources to hold national conferences twice a year, and had flourishing and powerful cassette and book ministries that have helped thousands all over the country.

And I know that members gave, sacrificially and cheerfully, beyond the obligatory 10% that has become the unfortunate normal standard for giving. For example, I know one member personally who gave well above 10% percent of his income, not just to this church but also to Christian ministries all over the country.

So here are my questions: (and believe me, these questions are generic ones, and not directed at anybody personally. I myself have been deeply convicted in the last few months since I began thinking about this topic, about how little, and how un-strategically I give!)

1. Is it not possible that it is fear (that perhaps one may not get enough money to make ends meet) that drives pastors who are otherwise sound and careful in the way they exegete Scripture, to adopt questionable doctrines such as:

i) The Tithe:

The truth is, if the Old Testament custom were to be actually followed in the era of the New Covenant, church members would actually be giving something like 23% of their income, which is something I have never heard any pastor talk about. In fact, the more I understand the New Covenant, the more I realize that the laws of the Old Covenant were pictures of the coming reality, and it makes perfect sense to me to realize that under the New Covenant, ALL my money (and not just 10%) belongs to God, to be used by Him for His glory and the extension of His Kingdom.

Should we not faithfully hold our members up to God's standards of discipleship, and help them develop their sense of relationship with God as both Lord of every part of their lives, and Loving Father who has now made them a part of His family?

ii) The Storehouse concept: mis-exegeted from Mal 3:8-10, which is used to tell church members that all their tithes should go to the church they attend.

In matter of fact, we give our money to God, and not to the church. He is the Head of the Church, and He is also the Lord of the harvest.

Should we not teach our members that they are giving to God, and that they should prayerfully ask God to show them how to use their money? I think members of (relatively wealthy) city churches have an especial responsibility to give, not just to their local church, but also strategically to other ministries in poorer parts of India. I think churches too should be considering how to strategically use the money they collect to extend God's Kingdom, not just in the cities in which they are located, but also in other parts of the country. Most often the church's budget gets used up improving its own infrastructure, (air-conditioning, better musical instruments and sound systems, salaries, etc). If the CS Lewis quote (that I posted previously) is correct, some of our city churches should be choosing to be more uncomfortable, and to live with more inconvenience so that God's work is better done in other places.

In conclusion, I think the Bible teaches us to be faithful in the stewardship of the money God has given to us, as well as shrewd in the way we use it. He expects us to use our resources wisely and well, so that we are:
1. Able to take care of ourselves and the people He expects us to provide for (parents, family, children)
2. Able to meet needs around us that He burdens us to meet.
3. Able to use our wisdom and skill to make strategic decisions that will have the maximal impact in building His Kingdom, and accomplishing His purposes.

What do you think?

Bonus: Read my father, Jacob Ninan's, article: Frequently Asked Questions on Tithing.

Possibly related posts from the past

1. Tithing and Giving
2. Sacrificial Giving
3. God's way of making us a part of His Kingdom

What really causes heart disease.....

My Dearest Arpita,

It seems you were right all along!


Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Turns out Women are Cleverer than Men

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God's way of making us a part of His Kingdom

"Watch the way Jesus walks through the kingdom. He is always moving toward the marginalized, the physically broken, the oppressed, and the poor. We already know that the rich are reluctant to believe in Jesus because they know it will cost them. Jesus and his followers prefer those who can never help us get a better job or increase the church budget.

Just when your storehouses had enough for tomorrow, you notice some desperate needs around you. The King is close enough to put his hand into your pocketbook and, for most Westerners, that is far too intrusive and impolite. "Go ahead and require public niceness and regular attendance at church, Lord, but remember that my money is my own!"

We get the impression that the Father prefers to keep us on the edge. This is what got us worried in the first place! His plan is to liberate us from our defensive, hoarding, tight-fisted, miserly ways, and to teach us that when we have been given the kingdom - the kingdom! - stinginess is unnatural and unbecoming. We might prefer a different strategy, but if God is molding us to be chips off the old block, his strategy makes sense. It is exactly what we need, because our greatest need is to be what we were intended to be - to be like him.

So, the Kingdom is God's and God targets the needs of those who have less than we do. In other words, not only is the kingdom about God, and not me, I don't even come in second! I am to consider others more important than myself in the kingdom. This seems like too much to ask until the King calls us his treasured possession (Ex. 19:5). He is seeking my allegiance with love, not with force and power. The reason we are called to lay up our treasures in heaven is because we are his treasure. When you are confident that you are the Father's treasured possession, you are also confident that his loving care will continue forever. Building warehouses is a waste of time and space. His gifts to you become things you want to give him back in gratitude. Then he give you even more."

(Ed Welch, Running Scared: Fear, Worry & the God of Rest, p. 133, 134)

(HT: Vit Z)

Possibly related posts from the past:

Inasmuch as you have not done it to the least of these my brothers.......
2. What is a Mission Hospital?
3. Sacrificial Giving
4. Tithing and Giving
5. Giving with a difference

Sacrificial Giving

"I do not believe one can settle on how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them."

(C. S Lewis in Mere Christianity)

(HT: Vit Z)

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. Tithing and Giving
2. Giving with a Difference

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The World Map divided into Five, with each containing a Fifth of the World's Population

The world divided into five, with each containing a fifth of the world's population
China has a fifth of the world's population: 1.35 billion. This is how much land is required to hold each of the other fifths.

As this blogger remarks, "I’m not sure what is more amazing — how vast the area in blue is or how small the area in yellow."


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sincere and pure devotion

Ray Ortlund talks about his recent visit to The Cove in Asheville – at the Billy Graham Training Center.

The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville (via)
"I wish you could have been there with us in the green room, as we gathered before each service. I saw no ego at all. They were relaxed friends, enjoying one another. But there was more. I saw a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For example, as they were discussing the music, now and then Cliff would spontaneously break out in song, and everyone would join in, right there in the planning session. I saw no distinction between planning the worship and worshiping. It was beautiful. It was heartfelt. It was real. I saw Cliff, with zero affectation, speak about his Lord with emotion breaking his voice. I saw the members of the team speak to and about one another with tears in their eyes. I saw biblical Christianity – a sincere and pure devotion to Christ flowing and overflowing."

Read the rest....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Forgiven People Forgive

Riley Cooper

"Until last week, Cooper’s was a name known only to die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans; now it’s a household word. Last week, a video surfaced of a drunk Cooper (who is white) using a racial slur (the racial slur) while claiming he wanted to fight all of the African-Americans at a Kenny Chesney concert.

In a statement following the video’s appearance on the internet, Cooper said, “I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to [Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie, to [General Manager] Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”

To most observers, Cooper seems sincere and legitimately contrite. Only God knows, of course. But it’s not the quality of Cooper’s apology that interests me, it’s the reaction of Cooper’s teammates to the apology."

Read the rest of what happened.

The author concludes:

"To the extent that we ignore (or run from) our own sinfulness, we will be unable to care for other sinners. We will be unable to extend forgiveness to others until we are honest about the extent to which we are forgiven. The most forgiving people are those who are coming to daily, deeper terms with their own need for forgiveness. Ungracious people are those who haven’t come to grips with their own dire, daily need for grace."

(HT: Tullian)

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. The Insanity of Luther by R C Sproul
2. Everything you are in the world is of no value.....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Annadurai the Autodriver

For those who missed this on my brother Prem's Facebook page:

Here is the story of a surprisingly enterprising auto-driver in Chennai, Annadurai, who seems to invest much of what he gets, into trying to give his passengers a good experience.

You could pass the time (while using his autorickshaw to make the 30 minute commute between Thiruvanmiyur and Sholinganallur) using the free wi-fi connection to surf the internet, using his tablet if you have not brought your own, watching TV, reading the various magazines he subscribes to and enrolling in the various contests he conducts. If you're lucky, you might even make the ride free!

I'd like to meet this guy!

Annadurai in his autorickshaw

Some of the deals available in Annadurai's auto

Read more.....

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Insanity of Luther by R C Sproul

Here is a priceless little lecture that I found yesterday on one of the blogs I follow.

It is the story of Martin Luther, told by a terrific story teller, R C Sproul. Actually this is the first time I have ever watched Dr Sproul speak, and I am glad to have finally found him.

In this lecture, he discusses the possibility that Martin Luther was, in fact, insane, and concludes, "Ladies and Gentlemen, If (Luther was) crazy, I pray that God would send an army of insane people like that into this world..."

Do take the time to watch this. It is certainly worth 30 minutes of your time!

(HT: Tullian Tchividjian)

 Possibly Related Posts from the past

1. Everything you are in the world is of no value.....

Apple iPhones for sale

The Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction!

Witness the story of the young lady who recently tried to buy two Apple phones
for $1200.....

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

After the rains...

Ray Eicher's simple and powerful gesture of expressing empathy with the people of Uttaranchal

A Reflection from Dr Philip Alexander

A reflection from a surgical giant in the Mission Hospital at Manali.

"Viewed from the legal and academic perspective, my reach had extended beyond my lawful jurisdiction. I had taken a risk, and included the patient in that gamble. In this instance, it paid off. An unanswered question is what if the outcome was bad? Would a remote practitioner still be justified and validated in his altruistic attempt? How many risks will we take, and how far will our reach exceed our grasp?"

Possibly related posts from the past:

What is a Mission Hospital?

Christian Hospital, Bissamcuttack

A Shout out to India's Generalists

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tithing and Giving

Here are a couple of links that I'm sure you will find interesting and thought provoking. These concern the questions of tithing and giving....

I seem to agree with the author that the 'tithe' (a compulsory 10 percent giving to God) was basically an Old Testament principle, that was replaced in the New Testament  with the understanding that All (100 percent) that we are and own belongs to God and we are only stewards of what he has given us. Jesus came to fulfil the Law and help us understand what it was meant to signify. (just like 'Do not murder' became 'Do not become angry', 'Do not commit adultery' became 'Do not lust in your heart', and 'Do not bear false witness' became 'Let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' no')

This understanding actually changes the way we live and give. We would probably end up giving MORE, and definitely more strategically for the building of God's Kingdom.

What do you think?

Possibly related posts from the past:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hundreds of couples offer to adopt a child with Down's Syndrome to prevent an abortion

What a heart-warming story that confirms, in my mind, that Adoption is the answer to Abortion!

A child with Down's Syndrome (via) These are some of the most cheerful kids you could imagine

When the Rev. Thomas Vander Woude learned about a young couple planning to abort their unborn baby that had been diagnosed with Down syndrome, the priest reached out and offered a deal: Deliver the child and he would help find an appropriate adoptive family.

But he had to act fast.

The woman, who has not been identified for her privacy and her protection, was just shy of six months pregnant and lives in a state that prohibits abortions past 24 weeks — which meant he had a short time to find a family willing to make a lifelong commitment.

So Father Vander Woude, the lead pastor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Va., approached a volunteer who helped manage the church’s social media pages, and she posted an urgent plea on Facebook early Monday morning.

“There is a couple in another state who have contacted an adoption agency looking for a family to adopt their Down Syndrome unborn baby. If a couple has not been found by today they plan to abort the baby. If you are interested in adopting this baby please contact Fr. VW IMMEDIATELY,” the post read. “We are asking all to pray for this baby and the wisdom that this couple realize the importance of human life and do not abort this beautiful gift from God.”

The post asked people to call the church’s office after 9:30 a.m. Monday or to email Father Vander Woude.

No one expected the response they received.

Read the rest at this news article.

(HT: Z)

Related posts:

Open Letter to M: Why abortion cannot be a matter of personal choice

Image bearers

Is Genetic Selection our Moral Obligation

Only 0.006 percent of abortions are done to save the mother's life

Some Incredible testimony from a Former Abortionist

Feel's like killing a puppy? Are you kidding me?!

"If someone else is driving a car and we're sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course, it is. If I'm a chief minister or not, I'm a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad"

(interview to Reuters, reported on 12/7/2013)

No, Narendra Modi, no!

Narendra Modi

You were not in the back seat of a car when it ran over a puppy.

You were in the driver's seat when your car ran over around 2000 human beings. Not to mention, the number of indescribable, horrific atrocities on women and children that took place at the same time.

The iconic photograph of Qutubuddin Ansari

On a rampage in Modi's Gujarat

There can be no comparison.

At the very least, you could say, "I'm sorry!"

Read again: The Gujarat Violence of 2002 on Wikipedia

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A letter to a young (imaginary) Christian couple, Raja and Rani, who are planning to get married soon.

Dear Raja and Rani,
Congratulations! What superb news that you are going to get married next month!  I am so glad to hear that you are excitedly making arrangements and wedding plans. This is a wonderful time, and I know that you are savouring every moment. And believe me, contrary to what the movies portray, things can get even better once you get married!
You have asked me to pen my thoughts on what a Christian marriage should look like. That is a great question, but a huge task! I could write volumes, but (you can breathe again!) let me instead limit myself, in this first letter, to trying to give you a glimpse of the glorious plans God must have had when He arranged the First Marriage, and began this institution of marriage.
Timothy and Kathy Keller, in their excellent book, “The Meaning of Marriage” (you must try and get your hands on this book) write that the Bible begins with a marriage and ends with a wedding!
We read in the first two chapters of the Bible about the first marriage. God had been creating night and day, sun, moon, stars, plants and animals, when suddenly there seems to be a pause. For the first time, we are given a picture of the Trinity talking and planning together, “Let Us make man in Our own image”.... and, we read, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We are given more details in Genesis 2, about how Adam was lonely, and God made Eve out of his rib, woke him up from his sleep, and brought her to him, and about how Adam sang for joy in a burst of creativity, “Here, at last, Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh!”  I’m sure Adam’s song resonates in your own hearts at this time.
We get a sense of the common origins and destiny of man and woman, and the mandate given to both: To display God’s image, and to be stewards of all of creation, acting as God’s representatives on earth. We are given a sense that both men and women, with all our similarities and differences, are needed to display God’s beautiful image accurately and accomplish His task.
And then, in the last two chapter’s of the Bible we read about the great Wedding feast of Jesus and His Bride.
From the Biblical account of these two weddings, we get some important clues to God’s great design for marriage. I think there are really two great purposes for marriage:

1. I think God intended from the beginning that marriage should be a depiction of the beauty of the Trinity, with husband and wife mutually exalting and mutually submitting to each other, just as Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to each other.
2.  I think God wishes marriage to display the wonder of Christ’s love for the church, and to remind us of the marriage we are invited to be part of, at the marriage feast of Jesus and His Bride.
These ideas are explained further in other parts of the Bible. For example, we read about marriage displaying the Trinity in 1 Cor 11:3 (“Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ”) and about marriage displaying the relation between Christ and His Bride in Eph 5: 17-33 (the difficult passage in which men are encouraged to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it, and wives are encouraged to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ).
Another truth that emerges when all these passages are put together is that Jesus is the example for both husbands and wives.
Picture a marriage in which the husband imitates Jesus, as he is instructed to in Eph 5. (“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”)
Imagine a husband loving his wife as Jesus loves His church. What would such love look like?! Imagine the husband giving himself up daily for his wife. Imagine him taking steps to love first and unconditionally, and to love until the end, forgiving first, taking the first steps to resolve conflict, and truly displaying servant leadership, just as Jesus, his example. Imagine him satisfying her, nourishing and cherishing her, meeting her every need, providing for her, giving her the desires of her heart and leading her higher just as Christ does for the church.
Imagine the wife playing the Jesus-role as she is instructed to do in 1 Cor 11:3. What would such submission look like?! Imagine a wife joyfully submitting to her husband, exalting him, seeking to please him and serve him just as Jesus, her example, who “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men”. Imagine the husband responding by exalting the wife, glorifying her and setting her above himself!
What a glorious marriage that would be!
We bristle at words like ‘submission’ and ‘leadership’ because we do not see that the Jesus-like love of the husband towards his wife demonstrates itself in very similar ways to the Jesus-like submission of the wife towards the husband! Both are continually asking the question, "How can I serve you better?"
As Kathy Keller says, “We, the Church, submit to Christ in everything, and the parallel of the wife submitting everything to the husband is no longer daunting, since we know what kind of behaviour the husband has been called to imitate.” A wife could joyfully and fearlessly submit to such a man.
Unfortunately, one of the effects of the Fall is that this high view of the purpose of marriage has become corrupted. Starting in Genesis 3, men and women have begun selfishly begun trying to blame each other, attempting to dominate, exploit and use each other for their own purposes.
I pray that you will have caught a glimpse of God’s high calling for your marriage, and that you will give yourself to your spouse, just as Jesus gave Himself for you. Your marriage will then display to the world around the beauty of the Dance of the Trinity, and be a glorious reminder of the coming Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
With you in seeking God’s purposes,